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Battle Royale X Critique thread - Does God Know Your Entire Future?

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  • #61
    Overall, it was nice to see Sam coming out swinging! This is the spirit which makes this website
    so great, and its nice to see it in an open forum like this, one on one, and still civilized too...

    I haven't read over the rules, but I think it was fair for Bob to open with a statement of viewpoint
    moreso than direct rebuttal to Sam, I mean, that's the way debates happen. Both sides establish
    viewpoints first, and then begin to engage each other on the merits of each other's arguments.

    Sam's responses were well thought out and vigorous, and backed with scripture, but strategically,
    I think Sam let Bob "take over the agenda" by responding as comprehensively to Bob's points
    as he did.

    Its amusing to say the least that the "conservative literalist" is arguing for contextualization of
    scripture, and the "academic" is arguing for what I consider a "conservative" fixed understanding
    of the nature of God! I'm beginning to think that "open view" of God means "easily manipulated,"
    through careful choice of context vs literalist representation of scriptural passages.

    Regarding Sam's last statement, I agree with the statement that OV "brings a cure that's worse
    than the sickness," i.e. surrendering the sovereignty of God, but I would argue against the way
    he presents the statement. The debate isn't about "which viewpoint is best for humanity," but
    rather, "which viewpoint best represents the truth about God."

    My point is, its in Sam's best interest to stick to his core arguments regarding "the nature of God
    revealed through Scripture and uniquely through Christ."

    Dave Miller
    1 John 4:7-8 "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love."


    • #62
      TO THE MODERATOR: I intended to only secondarily respond to Dave's post in my last post. What I am getting at in the critique is Sam's statements criticizing Bob's response to his question about interpreting the Bible, the irony of it all.

      On the one question from my entire post that Bob does answer, his answer is so broad as to be virtually pointless. To answer that one uses context to determine an anthropomorphism is akin to saying that we learn what a book means by reading it. While that is true, it is so broad and so obvious as to offer almost no help in terms of the specific question that I raised. I had a Greek professor who told us that if we fell asleep in class and he called on us that we should wake up saying “context” because the word (as it is used in Biblical studies) was so broad that it could be construed as answering almost any question.
      Bottom line, I think its funny that Sam is getting on Bob about interpreting Scripture and understanding anthropomorphic (or more accurately anthropopathic) statements about God, since Sam used a passage like 1 Sam 15:29 to "prove" that God will not repent EVER when it says in the same chapter before and after 1 Sam 15:29 that God has indeed repented.


      • #63
        Finally going to analyze Sam's latest post, before Bob posts his next one tomorrow!

        I do agree a little bit regarding his criticism of Bob's lack of direct response. However, I think he went a little overboard on that, and tried to make a dramatic moment out of it by making himself out as the "better man," so to speak, instead of just doing it. Bragging about it before hand (treating Bob's post as the "first post") erased whatever virtue he tried to show. But overall, this is a minor thing.

        I have to agree also with his criticism of Bob's answer to the one question about anthropomorphisms. I thought this was a good opportunity for Bob to really answer this question well, early in the debate where that answer does belong, because it is so foundational to everything else. I agree that Bob's answer was much too vague, too pat, and Sam made a good point about using "context" as an answer. (Don't worry, I still think the rest of Bob's post was very strong.)

        Sam compounds his mistake of using the Gospel of Thomas by once again lifting it up out of the sewer where it belongs. He tells us that he affirms it isn't scripture, and that it really isn't in the same class as scripture. Sam, I have a newsflash for you -- the Gospel of Thomas is a heretical work. How on earth you thought it was useful in indicating the believing masses' majority views on the nature of God is beyond me! I still find that to be a staggering error on your part, and it honestly seriously diminished your credibility right from the start. I'm bein' honest cuz I love ya, brother.

        Sam's criticism of Bob's statement that “Psalms ignores or downplays the Greek and Roman philosophical attributes of the OMNIs . . . .” is just plain silly. Sam, you do not think that Bob actually believes the Greek philosophers were around before the psalmists. C'mon now... this is almost a borderline ad hominem. Do you want us to believe that Bob is that stupid or incredibly uneducated? You know darn well that Bob was referring to the idea that the Bible speaks of God's power, His ability to be at least many places, and His foreknowledge... and that these things are lifted up to extremes by the Greek philosophers, but that the Psalmists didn't mention them much, preferring to spend far more time on the five attributes Bob listed as being the foci of the Open View. He was speaking about the attributes, not the philosophers themselves. You know it, Bob knows it, we all know it. This is a silly and petty criticism, totally worthless.

        A bit later, I notice Sam sets up a false dichotomy. He criticizes Bob's definition of Omnipresence on the basis that supposedly Bob thinks God "cannot penetrate" some places. The Open View (and many in other views!) holds that God isn't necessarily in all places at all times... but that this doesn't mean He can't be in all places in all times. It's silly to confuse the two. Just because He doesn't... doesn't mean He can't! What a straw man!

        His analysis of whether God is in Hell is just as bad. He goes straight to the issue of... Sheol? Oh goodness.. This is one of the reasons I wish the English word "hell" could be stricken out of the Bible... and replaced with more appropriate words! Which Hell, Sam? Sheol/Hades? Tartarus? Gehenna/the Lake of Fire? There is more than one Hell, and that's entirely relevent here. Bob here is referring to the Lake of Fire, where they will be deprived forever of God's presence. We can take that to the bank. We (many of us, at least) believe Jesus went down to Sheol (Paradise) and freed the souls there during His 3 days in the grave! So it's obvious on its face that Bob isn't referring to Sheol.

        Then, again, Sam misrepresents what Bob wrote when he says that "the attributes of God must form a 'package' and cannot be separated." Another straw man! Bob didn't say it's an either/or situation. He described the one (Open) list as being the greater attributes of God, and the others (the Omnis) as being the lesser attributes of God, and even pointed out (brilliantly) that Jesus emptied Himself of those omnis in the incarnation... but not the fact that He is living, personal, relational, good and just. I thought that was a fantastic point that deserved some response from yourself.

        Sam then asks some questions that Bob already preemptively answered:

        "Since God does not know how the future will turn out is it possible that man may somehow, in some way do away with God?"

        "How can we be sure that God will always be personal?"

        "Can we be assured that God will continue to relate to us forever? Might any person end up in hell because God had decided it was better not to be relational?"

        "If God does not know my future, how can he or I be sure that what he gives to me will be good?" [You mean like putting Adam and Eve in the garden, even though putting them in direct proximity to the Tree of Knowledge and allowing the "serpent" to tempt them led to a major possibility of falling into sin? Or, from your view, a certainty?]

        "Can God even make the absolute promise of eternal life without also knowing the future infallibly and exhaustively?"

        Now we get to Sam's answers to Bob's questions.

        The question of the reformulation of "utter immutability." Interesting, so Sam agrees that God isn't utterly immutable, that He changes. Great!

        "I believe that the true attributes of God are inseparable." Great, so does Bob! He just rightly observes that some are greater (or more important) than others.

        "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." False dichotomy! Just because some are greater than others doesn't mean they can be separated or dismissed!

        Finally, we get to Sam's questions! Oh boy!

        SL-Q4 "Did God know that Christ would die by crucifixion before the actual event happened? If so, how far in advance did he know this?" Ha! Sam, are you serious??

        SL-Q5 "Is it possible for God’s prophecy to be incorrect?" All I gotta say about this one is... Sam has no blooming idea what kind of landmine he just stepped on, here, and I can already see how this is going to blow up in his face.

        SL-Q6 "Does God hold any beliefs that are or might prove to be false?" Great question! One out of three, though... Work on your questions, Sam!

        In conclusion, Sam falls right into the humanistic trap, as usual. "At what price do we give up the traditional attributes of God?" Traditional, Sam? The rules state (and you've reiterated) that what's most important here is what the truth is, from God's perspective. Not Christian tradition! If you'd said "biblical," you would have had a great question. A question that Bob has already started to answer, by trying to demonstrate the following. Hypothetically, if you could seperate the attributes of God, imagine...

        If God had all the omnis, but was not loving, just or relational... you'd have a terrible God.

        If God was loving, just and relational but only very powerful and very knowing and in a lot of places... you'd have a lesser God but still a great God!

        The point here is that God has both sets of attributes, but the attributes the Open View focuses on ... are the more important ones, the greater ones.
        1 Corinthians 13:2
        And though I have ... all knowledge... but have not love, I am nothing.


        • #64
          Critique of Bob's 2nd round post.

          Well, I think we can officially put to bed the criticism that Bob is unresponsive to Sam. Not only did Bob answer all of Sam's questions with yes and no answers but he devoted his entire post to fully answering Sam's question regarding Judas and the "prophecies" regarding Judas.

          Bob's view of the role of Judas is not a new one, (I have used a similar argument for years now) however, no one that I know of has actually given such an in-depth treatment of the answer.

          Personally, I think Bob's answer is spot-on and extremely powerful. If you don't feel the hairs on the back of your neck rise up when reading Bob's 2nd round post you probably aren't reading it very carefully.

          I pray that all Christians reading Bob's explanation of the Judas story give it fair and careful consideration for it truly does exalt God's love in majestic way.

          Utterly brilliant post - kudos Bob!

          I am hoping and asking that Sam give a in-depth response to Bob's answers (especially Bob's answer for SLQ4) in round #3.
          Oh, wise guy eh?


          • #65
            Bob wrote:

            And we see the humanist influence even with the “simple foreknowledge” proponents of the Settled View, who say that God knew what Judas did because He looked into the future and saw Judas doing it. But “the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).[emphasis mine]

            Here we can see that Bob used 1 Samuel 16:7 in order to demonstrate that the Lord did not need to have foreknowledge in order to know what Judas was going to do because "the Lord looks at the heart".

            And that is indeed a verse that decribes the Lord's very nature.He does not need to see outward acts in order to know whether or not a person has faith or fears God.But then these same people who understand this fact about His nature ignores it when they take a "literal" reading of the following verse:

            "And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me"(Gen.22:12).

            If we take this verse literally then we must believe that God did not know if Abraham feared God until He saw an outward demonstration of that fear.But we see Bob use a verse that describes His nature in order to answer the points in regard to Judas,but when it comes to Abraham the Open Thesists say that the Lord must see outward acts to know whether or not a man fears God.

            We can see in the following verse that the Lord is describing His very nature,and that is because He compares His nature to the nature of man:

            "But “the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

            The same exact principle can be seen in the following verse:

            "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it?"(Num.23:19).

            Here the Lord is speaking about His nature because He compares His nature to that of man.But those who follow the teaching of Bob Enyart say that this is not describing His nature but instead just refers to the particular "context" in which it was written.

            After all,if they would acknowledge that the Lord is speaking of very nature then they would not be able to use the "figurative" verses that speak of God changing HIs mind.And without those verses they woulkd have no case.

            In His grace,--Jerry
            "Dispensationalism Made Easy"
            Last edited by Jerry Shugart; August 9th, 2005, 10:41 AM.


            • #66
              Regarding Bob's second post:

              Excellent answers and points, and questions. Having already heard his Predestination vs Freewill album, I figured basically how he would answer the Judas questions, but he went into more detail and it was neat. God would be thrilled if Judas had repented! Paints an awesome picture of what could have happened. (makes me wish it would have gone that way )
              Bob didn't directly answer the questions of Peter denying Christ three times, but we can gleen what Bob's opinion is. I also wish he would have touched on the Matt 6:8 question, but I think it is pretty easy. (I just wanted to see if my take is right)

              Bob shows that if we take the Bible literally and in context, we see that God is a real living being that loves, cares, hopes, and changes. The open view lets us relate to God and makes Him truely lovable for who He is, and not just an infinte power who we had better revere or else! I would hate to be shown that Calvinism is true, because it would be much harder to feel true personal love for God in my opinon. We would be left with an arbitrary God doing things that seem wrong in some cases, (predestinating people to hell with no hope, for instance) and excusing Him by saying, "His ways are different, who are you to question Him?"
              One person here used to have the signature; Calvinism is God holding your head under water and saying, "why don't you save yourself, why don't you save yourself". A horrible (yet amusing) picture, but accurate by my understanding of Calvinism. If Dr. Lamerson can prove entire foreknowledge, (which to me would prove Calvinism to a good degree) I will have some serious issues to deal with in my view of God.

              Great job, Bob! Looking forward to Dr. Lamerson's reply.

              Marge: "Aren't you going to give him the last rites?"
              Rev. Lovejoy: "That's Catholic, Marge - you might as well ask me to do a voodoo dance."

              "Oh bother" said Pooh, as he chambered the next round.

              Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. - Benjamin Franklin


              • #67
                The Lord Jesus made a specific prophecy concerning His death before He was crucified:

                "Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
                And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again"

                The Lord Jesus Christ,the second Person of the Godhead,clearly believed that He would be crucified by the Gentiles.However,Bob Enyart seems to think that the crucifixion could have happened in an entirely different manner.He said:
                But what if every Jew repented, and every Gentile? If the whole world humbled itself, including Judas, Caiaphas, Herod, Pilate, and even Tiberius Caesar, absolutely everybody, then would God be unable to sacrifice His Son? No. Then He could instruct the high priest, who would be obedient, to prepare to sacrifice the Offering. “Caiaphas, stand outside the Temple, and lift up your eyes, and go, and at the top of the hill, as it was prophesied, ‘In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided,’ there on Mt. Moriah, as Abraham had readied Isaac, prepare to sacrifice My Son, Jesus. He will present Himself there. And at the moment that every family is killing their Passover lambs, you will slay the Atonement, My Holy Passover, and sprinkle His blood on the people.”
                If Bob is right that the crucifixion could have happened apart from the Gentiles then the Lord Jesus would have been wrong in regard to what He told His Apostles.So how could Bob answer "no" to the following question?:

                "Does God hold any beliefs that are or might prove to be false?"

                So if the Lord could have been put to death apart from the Gentiles (as Bob maintains) then the Lord Jesus would have indeed held a belief that would have proved to be false.

                In His grace,--Jerry
                "Dispensationalism Made Easy"
                Last edited by Jerry Shugart; August 9th, 2005, 12:14 PM.


                • #68
                  I just deleted a long post accidently. I find it hard to believe that this stupid act was decreed or foreknown in eternity.

                  Thank you, Pastor Bob, for a well thought out and documented reply. I appreciate the source links.

                  Sam, is the Judas explanation at all plausible, despite it contradicting your preconceived theology? Is it less problematic than God being responsible for the damnation of Judas?

                  Church history is vital since doctrinal formulation is not without influences.

                  Bob: Deity, not diety. It was an important point to affirm a literal vs allergorical hermeneutic. Anti-open theists attack Pinnock, Sanders, etc. on these issues. We should affirm the literal, grammatical, historical, cultural, contextual approach to interpretation (while recognizing figures of speech).

                  Psalms does not necessarily emphasize classical attributes since it is poetic vs didactic. Like the Trinity, God's self-revelation occurs in historical narratives, not as a systematic text book of theology.

                  It would be helpful for our readers to be familiar with Boyd, Olson, Sanders, etc, on Judas. Bob's alternate, open view is interesting and very good. Again, Sam, is it at least plausible and less problematic to God's love and holiness (not arbitrary)?

                  The issue about prophecy not just being predictive is recognized by non-open theists. I would be interested in names of classic scholars that would support Bob. The Holy Spirit, in the NT, applied/inspired verses from the OT that would seem out of context to us. Some are a dual fulfillment or illustrative. If Sam tries to disagree, we need to give him more examples (Heb. 1; Acts, etc.).

                  "Non-prophecies" is not a familiar term. Are there other scholars that develop this idea? I agree with the concept.

                  Free will theism is self-evident, while determinism is problematic. Judas was not predestined to be the son of perdition (he became such; Jesus did not chose a devil to be in His inner circle). This might make sense for TULIP, but it shows how wrong Calvinistic assumptions are. God is not responsible for heinous evil or the damnation of free moral agents.

                  Omnipresence at creation is a new concept. The Bible is relatively silent about God's pre-creation existence. Creation changed some things, but I suspect He was still omnipresent before matter.

                  I would like to see Bob develop the philosophical influences on 'eternal now'/timelessness vs endless duration of time. This is another root issue that will affect how we perceive God's knowledge of the future.

                  I would like to see an emphasis on God's providential control/sovereignty vs the meticulous control (hyper-sov.) model. Sovereignty is not a dirty word, but it has been misunderstood. There is more than one way to rule creation. Sovereignty flows out of God's love. It is not necessarily inferior as a concept.

                  The prediction of Jesus is not prone to error. This proximal to the event knowledge was revealed by the Spirit who knew the hearts and motives as they unfolded. Sam is wrong to extrapolate, from this example, remote, exhaustive foreknowledge of ALL future moral/mundane contingencies. I agree with Bob that someone other than Judas could have 'fulfilled' prophecy. It did not matter which soldier actually killed Jesus.

                  I would like to see more offense with open examples like Hezekiah's life span, rather than just defending against proof texts.

                  The issue of theodicy could be emphasized since the open view is more cogent in light of God's revelation.

                  Will vs free will was helpful in its simplicity. We still need to defend the redundant libertarian free will since Calvinists have an illusory 'free will'.
                  Sam, are you familiar with compatibilism vs incompatibilism? This is another relevant debate that someone might allude to.

                  Bob: Well done. I am impressed and pleased to be backing your capable responses from the peanut gallery. Thank you for your time and excellence in doing theology. Thank you Sam for trying to think outside of the box and understand the alternate view. Though there are issues, they really are less problematic than the traditional view (tradition is not always biblical). Thank you for not just rotely responding with pat answers that are not persuasive.
                  Last edited by godrulz; August 9th, 2005, 03:53 PM.
                  Know God and make Him known! (YWAM)

                  They said: "Where is the God of Elijah?"
                  I say: "Where are the Elijahs of God?" (Ravenhill "Why Revival Tarries")

                  Rev. 1:17, 18; Jer. 9:23, 24

                  "No Compromise!" (Keith Green)

                  The Pledge: He died for me; I'll live for Him.


                  • #69
                    Given Sam's proof text for an unchanging God, which show that God DOES change his mind....(Saul etc) I would have to respectfully ask Him if he has personally read through the whole Bible..

                    I don't understand why he used those verses..

                    I understand his credentials.., but to list those verses as proof text seem to affirm Enyarts view that Christians have been heavily influenced by Platonic thought..

                    Sam is it possible, if God is love and he is, that it's not evidence of imperfection that he changes, but evidence for perfection?



                    • #70
                      Well, if nothing else Bob is clearly defining what the Open View is without a lot of the noise which occurs in a lot of the other threads, so I'm finding it all very interesting. I'm going to supend judgement until after the second post of round 10 though.
                      Trupp's Scientific Law:
                      God exists

                      How to falsify:

                      Method 1 - Die, come back and tell me I'm wrong.
                      Method 2 - Go back in time and verify whether Adam and Eve existed or not.


                      • #71
                        Personally, I dislike being boxed into the Calvinist camp because I hold to God's infinite foreknowledge, even though I do hold the open view attributes as described by Pastor Enyart. The list of open view attributes given by Bob ought to take precedence. However, seeing as how this debate revolves around God's foreknowledge, to hammer these attributes into the ground is pointless, as they do not necessarily, absolutely contradict the possibility of God's possesion of acausal foreknowledge.

                        Also, I believe that Bob overlooked a good point for the open view'ers concerning Judas by not stressing that only after Judas went to betray Jesus and was gone out of the room did our Lord say, "NOW is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. IF God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him." [John 13:31,32]

                        However, we have yet to see an explanation of Jesus's highly specific foreknowledge of Peter's thrice-denial.

                        I see this debate as sooner or later necessarily moving away from Scripture, as both sides seem to have credible grounds (as least as I presently see it.) This debate will necessarily move into the debate of God's relationship to time itself. (Scripture here also seems to walk a middle ground, as I've read it.) As this debates moves farther from Scripture and more toward pure philosophy (as Pastor Enyart has already done with his discussion of omnipresence), it will necessarily lose credibility with certain readers.



                        • #72
                          I thought that Bob's 2nd post was basically perfect. If I were Dr. Lamerson I really would be at a loss for how to rebut what Bob has said. His logic is flawless, I see no holes at all for the Dr. to exploit, although I'm sure that he will come up with something.
                          In regards to an explanation of Peter's denial, Bob did answer it. He didn't answer it directly but he did answer it (which demonstrates the brilliance of his argument, by the way). I do not think he was making a joke when he said that one should be able to know what his responses will be based on his explanation of the application of NOAH (the New Openness-Attributes Hermeneutic) and I think that anyone who tries at all would be able to do just that. It's so simple and elegant that most any 10 year old child could get it.

                          Resting in Him,
                          "The [open view] is an attempt to provide a more Biblically faithful, rationally coherent, and practically satisfying account of God and the divine-human relationship..." - Dr. John Sanders


                          • #73
                            Regarding Bob's 2nd post

                            It's obvious on this forum what the majority believe.

                            Bob's 2nd post could not have been a more horrible example of debate that I have ever seen. He still has not answered Dr. Lamerson's points made about Jesus's predictions of Peter and the Scripture of Matt. 6:8. In fact, Bob's entire 2nd post was mostly a figment of his imagination; a what-if scenario! This debate is not interested in fantasies Mr. Enyart. I for one, and I'm sure many other's reading this Battle, are a little more interested in down-to-earth answers that deal directly with the problems presented against your view by Dr. Lamerson in his very first post.

                            I find it very, very difficult for anyone to believe that Jesus could have been wrong about Judas, or any of his prophecies for that matter. And I find it very, very selfish to believe that God was more interested, and would have been more pleased to see Judas repent, than to see him fulfill Scripture, and deliver Jesus into the hands of the Gentiles, so that the world may be saved. Mr. Enyart, your assumptions that God could of found another way to be crucified without the betrayal of Judas undermines God's wisdom. In other words, if God wanted it done the way you so vividly explained, then it would of been done that way. Until God places you by His side for eternity and asks for your 'divine' wisdom on planning extremely important events in the history of humanity, I think you need to keep your irrational fantasies out of this debate.
                            Question what you believe in, and then you'll know.


                            • #74
                              Dr. Lamerson’s Second Post:
                              Unfortunately Dr. Lamerson decided to fill most of his second post with reasons why he won the first round (to which I agree). However, since he did little else he provided very little points for his second round.

                              His main point in the second round is that there are three instances in the Bible in which God says “I don’t repent”, to which Dr. Lamerson insists indicate something beyond it’s natural context. For instance Dr. Lamerson believes that God wasn’t just saying “No” to Saul’s request that He repent, but making a statement about God's core nature. That would be a very interesting point to try and make, however, he left that insinuation un-backed (something he critised Mr. Enyart for).

                              Mr. Enyart’s Second Post
                              Mr. Enyart first post set up his second which was decisively better. He did not stick to merely addressing Dr. Lamerson’s question (to which he did all) but went on to take the steam out of the only good Closed-View rebuttal against Judas (that Jesus knew he would betray him), and headed off any suggestions that Judas’ actions were predicted in the Old Testament by explaining prophecies which are not really explicit predictions (like the supposed 30 pieces of silver prophecy).

                              My. Enyart did spend a little too much time explaining he sequence of events if Judas hadn’t betrayed Jesus (I always cringe a little when people start putting words in Jesus mouth – though I do agree Jesus would have loved to have forgiven Judas).

                              Enyart has also failed to answer Dr. Lamerson's beginning points concerning Matthew 6:8 and Jesus' prediction of Peter's denial (although technically Dr. Lamerson never asked him to).

                              I think Mr. Enyart won this round, but there are plenty to go and Dr. Lamerson isn’t running.
                              Last edited by ApologeticJedi; August 9th, 2005, 10:17 PM.
                              A 'touchy-feely' CNN reporter, while interviewing an Army sniper asked, "What do you feel when you shoot a terrorist?" The Soldier shrugged and replied..... "Recoil."


                              • #75
                                It's interesting that nobody's really noticed all the errors of logic riddling Enyart's material.

                                Yes, Bob does redefine words, but that's not good. It's like saying "transubstantiation" in a debate on Catholicism should be redefined as y, not x like it has been for centuries, and I will furthermore address it as y, not x and argue against in from my definition. One shouldn't have to redefine terms. He ends up arguing against a straw man. His miscitation of Reymond is a prime example.

                                How exactly some attributes of God are more biblically sound than others seems to beg the question. Such an assertion is true only insofar as it is true that some attributes of God ascend over others, which He did not establish in his posts. His use of the false dilemma in his chart on the attributes of God understood by the two views is a case in point. It's designed to give the reader a warm fuzzy. Words like "warm" with relation to one group and "cold" with relation to others are nothing but emotive terms, which, having read them here in some reviews, seem to confer my suspicion that Bob is relying not on exegesis for this piece of his argument, but on false antithesis and appeal to emotion.

                                Enyart no doubt knows that his view is only true insofar as the other is false (that's probably why he's addressing Calvinism in particular), and since one of the biggest issues is libertarianism vs. compatibalism, I'm disappointed he did not lay out any articulation of how libertarian free will is taught in Scripture. If libertarianism is an invalid mechanism, then his view crumbles into dust. He has redefined "libertarian free will" already:

                                Finally, the triply redundant common term libertarian free will (LFW) has effectively the same definition as mine—that will is the ability to decide other than you do decide

                                In reality, there are three positions:

                                a) Hard determinism: We are not free to do otherwise even if we wanted to do otherwise.

                                b) Soft determinism: We are free to do otherwise if we want to do otherwise—although we are not free to want to do otherwise.

                                c) Indeterminism: We are free to want to do otherwise.

                                Is Enyart creating a diversion?

                                The definition of LFW is more properly stated as "freedom to want to do otherwise, not the ability to choose. His position is indeterminism. He simply assumes libertarianism, sometimes known as contra-causal freedom. He has not successfully defined the will any differently than his opponent, but it is known that his position is different than his opponent on this issue, and he says it is different. How it is different is the issue, but he does not tell us.

                                I know already that he holds to (c) above not (b) above. Dr. L. holds to (b). Notice in both views we are free to do otherwise, and his definition is "the ability to to decide other than you you do decide," "eg. freedom to do otherwise." The issue is whether we are free to want to do otherwise or not, not whether or not we are free to do otherwise. So, he didn't answer Lamerson's question. Lamerson asked him to define "free will." Enyart only defined "will." This diverts the issue away from the real issue...LFW or CFW (compatibalist free will).

                                Notice he cites no Scripture to actually support a libertarian view itself, nor does he even attempt to deal with the compatibalist view. Instead, he makes an emotive appeal and infers Calvinism makes God the author of sin. Notice also that the definition he holds as an Open Theist, if he's consistent with his compatriots, is not one driven by Scripture, but is one that is, itself, derived from Greek philosophy. It is the libertarian, not the compatibalist, that draws such a definition from Greek philosophy, so Enyart's argument against Calvinism on those grounds becomes subject to criticism for using a double standard. In short, if the Calvinist is influenced by extra-biblical philosophy regarding God's will, so is Enyart on his own views about man's will.

                                Rather than deal with what compatibalists say, he simply throws up a few Scriptures and says, "these define the will in such a way that it means this." However, do they do so in libertarian or compatibalist terms? We aren't told.

                                There are philosophical, and, more importantly exegetical considerations surrounding his position that he simply has not dealt with in a meaningful manner. He mentions what Calvinists say about free will, but, most importantly, he simply does not deal with the reasons that Calvinists believe in compatibalism. In short, he has made a weak case for his position on this issue, which really doesn't surprise me since libertarians acknowledge that they derive their views on this particular subject from extra-biblical thought (See Walls and Dongell and each and every major apologist for Greek Orthodoxy, for example), and, having made that charge to Dr. L, it would expose him to easy criticism.

                                So far, then, he's simply assumed libertarianism without any interaction with the exegesis from the passages the other side of the aisle uses. He mentions the number of times the NKJV uses the word "will." This is irrelvant. (A) The issue is the underlying text; (B) there are texts where "will" as word in English is not used from which Calvinists draw their ideas about compatibalism, texts he does not engage. He also seems here confuse "dogmatic" usage (as in a theology text or creedal formula) and "literary" usage, as in the biblical text. Sometimes they overlap; sometimes they don't.

                                I find this rather ironic:
                                For the Christians who have not been heavily influenced by pagan Greek thought, such a statement is repulsive and recognized immediately as contrary to the goodness and love of God
                                Then he goes on to quote Paul from two letters written to people steeped in Greek thought, letters which can be construed to teach the very doctrines he labels contrary to the goodness and love of God. Enyart seems to want to have his cake and eat it too. He says that he's not influenced by Greek thought, but uses a view of the will with its roots exactly there, and he chides Augustine, Calvin, etc. for being so influenced.

                                Thus, I must conclude his whole interlude into pagan philosophy is way off the mark and just a huge red herring.

                                A. The issue is what the exegesis of the text of Scripture has to say. The issue isn't Greek philosophy, it is the text by its own grammar and setting. If there was one text saying "Men are robots, but God is love." He would have to conclude both were true, not reject them based the emotive value of those terms.

                                B. "Logos" is a Philonic term, so we already have Hellenistic philosophy in Scripture itself. I don't see him denying the Incarnation on that basis, so pointing out Greek influences doesn't bolster his argument. They are already in the text.

                                He's also overstating Calvinism on a few things.

                                He writes,
                                To make it crystal clear how far this goes for the reader who is unfamiliar with common, thoroughgoing Calvinism, you believe that our “choice” is secondary, for each decision occurs because it is completely dependent upon God’s foreordination of that specific choice.
                                That's true, insofar as Calvinism draws a distinction between the power of contrary choice (between good and evil) and the power of alternative choice (between alternative goods and alternative evils). God does not directly decree every detail actively. (potentia absoluta) His decree includes the permission given to secondary causes (potentia ordinata). (C.Hodge Sys. Theo. V.1) Permission is still a decree, thus, even His permission is deemed “effectual.” His decretive will grounds both. The way that will is executed is the issue. E.g. the means are decreed as well as the ends. Those means for the Calvinist, include the free, compatibalistic choices of men. An agent’s nature does not determine his specific choice . Rather, it determines the general class of choices. A sinner can only sin, but he can sin in different ways. God can only do good, but there are a variety of goods from which to choose. For his opponent, His grounding decree grounds the existence of all things, including those specific choices, but it does not mean that God directly causes by His direct action those choices. Since He is the one who began the decree, He knows everything that exists on it.

                                Enyart is making an emotive plea to allege that Calvinists make God the author of sin since God is responsible for the existence of everything. Since God is the ground of all being, He has that pay-grade. The issue is what constitutes "blame" and "responsibility" and whether or not one always entails the other. He is making a huge blunder here.

                                First, To say that God is responsible for whatever happens is not to say that God is solely responsible for whatever happens. God is not the only agent in the world. God is the primary agent, but he has made secondary agents as well. Responsibility is a necessary condition for blame, but it is insufficient to entail blame. There are reasons the Calvinist believes this, there is a vast apologetic literature on this subject from all sides in this debate, and he never deals with them. See C, subhead b below.

                                Also, if LFW is true, then it gives man a type of freedom God does not have, since Enyart seems to believe God is only able to do good. God is not free unless He can do evil or illogically. Note too that if God can act in an illogical manner and the universe not fly apart when He does so, then the law on non-contradicition and all logical absolutes are, in fact, relative and mutable. . Theology proper has generally articulated a compatibalistic will for God that flows from His character attributes and His incommunicable attributes. His omniscience is related to His independence. Enyart has also mentioned a handful of attributes of God. However, it strikes me that, since God is in some measure dependent on man for His knowledge, his position needs to address the independence of God as articulated by the past 1900 or so years of orthodox theology. He has not done this, and the opposing position routinely accuses his of attacking this doctrine.

                                A. Not everything is foreordained by God's direct action. Some things are rendered by His inaction.

                                B. Some things are freely left to secondary causes based on the above distinctions if God's decree is one of permission and not direct action.

                                C. Based on (a) His knowledge of the nature of each person which He has created, He can accurately know what they will do in any given situation, and

                                (b) He can inferfere as He pleases to ensure a particular person makes a particular decision at a particular time and place if He so chooses, while the motives of that persons actions belong to Him alone. The motive for x action is the determinant of moral responsibilty, not the freedom to do otherwise. In fact, if was Dr. Ll, I would argue that LFW, because chance is a real possibility, destroys moral responsibility. God raised up nations to judge Israel, but he judged those nations for sinning in the process. They did God's bidding, but they did it while hating God and His people, not while loving God and His people. Thus, they are morally blameworthy for their evil, their evil was not in destroying Israel, for example, it was in hating the Israelites doing what they did for selfish reasons, etc. If they had done so loving God and worshipping Him only, that would be a different story, for that is precisely what God did with Israel when Joshua led them to conquer Canaan. God judged the pagan nations w/Israel and commended Israel, while he judged the pagan nations for what they did to Israel, even though He says He raised them up to do to Israel what Israel did to Canaan.

                                c) as such His foreknowledge is perfect, because His foreordination decrees it so, see D;

                                (d) God's direct action still need not make Him to blame for everything, because moral responsibility can be proven from hard determinism via Frankfurt-cases. A Frankfurt-case is a thought-experiment in which the subject, unbeknownst to himself, has a failsafe device implanted in his brain which would prevent him from making a certain choice. Frankfurt-cases are generally deployed to show that LFW is not a necessary condition of moral responsibility. Both the exegetical basis and the absolute necessity of LFW are essential to his position. He has neither interacted with his opponent on these issues, nor has he offered anythiing of substance that contravenes the apologetic material (including non-Christian views supporting compatibalism), nor has he established the presence or necessity of LFW in Scripture or that LFW is even philosophically valid.

                                D. Divine foreknowledge is grounded in His own foreordained responses to His own decree, and this is something Enyart has simply not dealt with in his posts, since he has seen fit to redefine terms. Enyart has assumed that God is relating to men themselves, but the contrary position is that God is reacting to His own decree. He is, in a broad sense, reacting to Himself when He reacts to man.