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

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Bob Enyart

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Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 5B

Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 5B

In this post, the unmovable stone wall (of the Settled View) meets the unstoppable force (of Relationship). One of the forces that threatens both the doctrine of Simple Foreknowledge and Calvinism, is: Google! This post will demonstrate that as the web delivers the world’s knowledge to each student, immutability’s origins in pagan Greek philosophy will be increasingly recognized, and Christians who have read for themselves the original source documents referenced below will be liberated to look anew at what the Bible says for itself!

Sam, you just called this a Red Herring! Years ago I read a college textbook on logical fallacies, so I am glad you’re trying to call me on any inappropriate argumentation, because if I am guilty of any, I will not be able to claim ignorance. In 1B, I asked rhetorically, “has pagan philosophy colored the Christian doctrine of God? The evidence that this has happened is startling, compelling, and requires a reconsideration of the Scripture after consciously rejecting all Greek influence.” In 2A you complained, not that this was irrelevant, but on the contrary, that Bob “offers no evidence,” and said that this claim “scream out for evidence and argument.” You would have made neither remark had I just introduced an irrelevant topic (say, that our murder rate was much lower a century ago when Coloradoans owned more guns per capita). In 3A, you did not judge this irrelevant, but: “It is not that I am unfamiliar with the work of those who make this claim (Boyd, Sanders, Pinnock, Rice, and others) it is that I am unconvinced by them.” Now I go to work.

My Assessment of the First Half of Battle Royale X

Rather than opening by framing the debate or providing a foundation for the Settled View, Dr. Lamerson stepped somewhere into the middle of the issue and presented three lines of evidence for exhaustive foreknowledge (one irrelevant, and two fascinating arguments regarding Peter and Judas). In post 1B, I selected the one thing from Sam’s first post that gave me anything to be responsive to and at the same time present my own opening statement providing the debate’s bigger picture. By replying to Sam’s official SLQ2 which asked how do we interpret biblical figures of speech about God, I also answered his first unofficial question from his introduction as to what hermeneutic will be used to resolve the entire Openness issue. Sam has provided no specific hermeneutic. I have answered that we must interpret all Scripture through a proper understanding of the divine hierarchy of God’s attributes, giving precedence to relationship and goodness over the OMNIs and the IMs.

By the fourth round, Sam had already violated the only hermeneutical direction he had provided. Earlier he had written that, “the study of the historical Jesus can be of help here,” yet if he is willing to discount Christ’s direct statement that “no one knows, not even… the Son,” showing that Jesus, as the Son, lacked omniscience, then Sam has surrendered any appeal to the historical Jesus. Sam has demonstrated the claim from my first post’s introduction, that the Settled View’s commitment to Greek philosophical concepts take precedence over Scripture’s clear statements.

Sam wrote, “If the exegete can determine the view of Jesus on divine foreknowledge, she may then have strong warrant for her hermeneutical decisions…” (By the way… well… oh… on second thought, never mind…) There is nothing more explicit regarding Christ’s view of His own knowledge than the Lord’s remarks about His Second Coming, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). I have irrefragably argued that the proper interpretation of all Scripture must submit itself to a right understanding of God’s attributes, and that very idea also provides the most precise focus conceivable for assessing Openness theology. But why does Sam say that this plainly worded and extraordinary statement by Jesus does not provide reliable guidance on the Son’s foreknowledge? He can see the writing on the manger. He resists acknowledging the divine hierarchy of God’s attributes, because he intuitively realizes that if true, the Settled View crumbles, taking Calvin with it. So even against clear Scripture, with countless Settled Viewers, Sam now must argue the immutability of the Baby in Bethlehem.

Exhaustive Foreknowledge comes from Greek Philosophy

Plato and Aristotle, with neo-platonists after them, presented to the world the classic arguments for immutability. Saint Augustine’s extraordinary commitment to pagan Greek philosophy survived his conversion with only some repositioning. As the most influential Christian theologian, Augustine based much of his theology on his commitment to the pagan doctrine of immutability and he bragged about this in his writings, and refers to the arguments of Plato and neo-platonic philosophers explicitly in defense of immutability and a Settled Future (which the Greeks referred to as fate and sometimes as providence). Scholars credit Augustine with preventing Christianity from being “cut off from the Classics.” Christian monks and theologians through the Middle Ages gave enormous priority to the study of Greek classics, and Christianity even fiercely maintained a Greek cosmology, all of this directly following Augustine. Like their leader, Monks would sanitize Greek ideas by twisting a few verses into proof-texts, as quoting that the sun rises and sets in defense of Aristotle. (Incidentally, ascetic monasticism itself was an eastern pagan influence on the church, with no scriptural support for monasteries, and Greek thought erased any biblical balance to denying one’s self, for “Plato viewed asceticism as a means of… conditioning the body… to a point at which the soul… could be free.”) Overcoming extraordinary intellectual repression, Christians like Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton were more committed to Scripture than to the Greeks, and as Galileo’s character Simplicio (Simpleton) played the Aristotelian, they consciously broke with Aristotle’s stifling defense of geo-centrism. And Christian theology will be as muddled as our dark-ages cosmology had been, until our ministers likewise deliver themselves from the bondage of pagan humanism. The Reformation broke with Rome, but not from Greece. The lead Reformer, Augustinian monk Martin Luther, was annoyed with Kepler’s scientifically liberating laws of planetary motion, preferring to ignore the proof because Aristotle’s circular orbits had a single divine center, while Kepler’s elliptical orbits had two centers; and evidence or not, passionate Greek commitment does not die readily. The Reformation was tainted with neoplatonism from the start. The great educational establishment of the Reformation was built by neo-platonists, who of course taught Scripture and Greek philosophy together, confidently writing and teaching from textbooks on the Classics. At the time, the study of Greek philosophy was fondly, but properly, called humanism. Reformation theologians and ministers were trained in their own colleges, which were established to teach Scripture as Augustine taught it, by defending their theology with Greek philosophy, and by promoting significant neo-platonic influence on Christianity.

Sam denies this.

My Settled View opponent has yet to identify his hermeneutic for interpreting everything consistent with exhaustive foreknowledge, so until he provides one, I will do so for him to the best of my ability. The Settled View Hermeneutic is Commitment to Augustinian Tradition. And continuing, the following quotes and summaries are not taken out of context, but come from passages regarding God’s fundamental nature.

Divine Immutability

Plato: “The gods are themselves unchangeable;”he changes not.”
Aristotle: “it is impassive and unalterable;” The divine mind “does not change
Plotinus (father of neoplatonism): “knowing nothing of change;” “that Being… neither in process of change nor having ever changed;” “never varying
Augustine: “absolute unchangeableness
Aquinas: “God alone is altogether immutable;” “God is supremely immutable
Luther: Immutablity” is the core of his entire Bondage of the Will
Calvin: “God, it is certain, is absolutely immutable;” “God remains unchangeably the same
Scripture: A thousand verses, corroborated by the Incarnation, prove that God changes. We should trust Christ because of God’s commitment to righteousness, not because immutability makes it impossible for Him to turn against us.

Divine Immobility

Plato: the Creator is “immovably the same.”
Aristotle: “there is something which moves without being moved;” [God] “does not change, for change would be… a movement.”
Plotinus: “Life [i.e., God is] changelessly motionless;” “nothing in it ever knows development
Augustine: God is “without movement;” “Neither is there any growth;” “without any movement
Aquinas: “God cannot be moved
Luther: “Immovable Thyself
Calvin: “he remains unmoved;” He “is incapable of every feeling”
Scripture: The Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters. God the Son came down from heaven. We have emotion because God is passionate. He experiences love and anger, grief and joy.

Remember, the Greeks were talking about a pagan deity, but for these Christians, it seems like I lifted these excerpts from their descriptions of a stone idol, but I have not misquoted them.

Divine Timelessness

Plotinus (father of Augustine’s neoplatonism): “What future… could bring to that Being anything… that standing present… it cannot include any past… Futurity, similarly, is banned”
Augustine: “whereas no time is all at once present” “not in our fashion does He look forward to what is future… nor back upon what is past
Aquinas: “The idea of eternity follows immutability” “eternity is simultaneously whole
Scripture: God’s “years” (Ps. 102:27; Heb. 1:12) never end. Jesus is waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. God is not co-eternal with creation, but made heaven and earth, which are not eternal. He created in the past, somberly looked forward to the crucifixion, endured the cross, which He suffered once for all time and does not continually hang on the cross, and now looks forward to Judgment Day.

Implications

Aristotle: The divine mind “does not change, for change would be for the worse…”
Augustine: He “beholds all things with absolute unchangeableness” “nor does His present knowledge differ from that which it ever was or shall be”
Aquinas: “just as His substance is altogether immutable… so His knowledge likewise must be altogether invariable
Luther: “the immutably of His foreknowledge;” “God foreknows nothing contingently
Scripture: In Scripture God presents Himself as making creatures that can be creative and themselves bring brand new thoughts and actions into existence.

The Incarnation shatters all this Greek philosophy.

Only time and space limits kept me from adding so many more quotes. The closest concept scripturally to the philosophic perversion of immutability is the eternal steadfastness of the Living God (Dan. 6:26). Period. No twisted metaphysical contortions are required. Biblical immutability speaks of the God’s commitment of God’s will to righteousness (Heb. 6:17-18), His eternal existence (Ps. 102:27); His faithfulness to Abraham (Mal. 3:6); His resolute commitment to truth (Heb. 13:8-9); and His trustworthiness to do only good (Jam. 1:17). And unlike Sam’s typical Settled View rational in Post 2B, none of this is because God can not but because He will not do evil. But when Sam denies the very Strength of Israel, which is God’s will to do right, reducing Him to a being who simply has no choice in the matter, no wonder Sam now thinks that every filthy perversion flows as a command from the mind of God (resisting Jer. 19:5; 32:35). Rather, God provides our salvation in righteousness, which He maintains immutably only by the commitment of His will, thus, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast,” (Heb. 6:19).

This frees the student of God’s Word to begin again at Genesis, and read through, seeing the glory of a relational God, actually uncompromised by evil, fully engaged and greatly affected by our love and hurt by our disobedience. Now, let’s fill in some particulars.

Plato (B.C. 427–347)

Plato had a high IQ, as do many who hate God and righteousness, and yet the Open View does not say that unbelievers are always wrong. Hollywood ends their blockbuster movies with the wicked punished, and the righteous vindicated, even though they hate themselves for it. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. So we can take an occasional illustration from Hollywood, and benefit from the scientific observations of atheists, but for Christians to allow Plato to influence their doctrine, as otherwise insightful Arminian Settled Viewers do, is downright foolishness. But what can it be called, other than the irony of the ages, when Sam with all five-point Calvinists who say they believe in Total Depravity, conform God’s Word to the influence of pagan Greek philosophy?

Plato by his darkened mind, gave the classic argument for immutability, arguing that God cannot change at all because God must be perfect, and any change could only be “for the worse [thus…] it is impossible that God should ever be willing to change…

But he forgot to consider acorns. And perfect oceans, and perfect stars, and perfect newborn babies. For the Living God mirrored His own vitality in His creation. However by Augustine’s lifetime commitment to philosophy, he imposed Plato’s perspective on Christianity. But Augustine loved the guy, so perhaps he’s not so bad? Well, he will remind us why God despises paganism, by this glimpse into his Greek mind, from Plato’s Republic, Book VI. For Plato recommended a utopian state in which he would require for the philosophers and the soldiers:
that the wives of our guardians are to be common, and their children are to be common, and no parent is to know his own child, nor any child his parent… [and] a woman, I said, at twenty years of age may begin to bear children to the State, and continue to bear them until forty.”​
But what if a teenager or a fortyish woman becomes pregnant? Plato has a delicate solution: just kill the baby. For if he became ruler (the wise philosopher king), Plato would allow childbirth:
“only to those who are within the specified age [with] strict orders to prevent any embryo which may come into being from seeing the light; and if any force a way to the birth, the parents must understand that the offspring of such an union cannot be maintained, and arrange [that is: kill it] accordingly.​
It is this same Plato of whom we read, by Augustine, City of God, Book VIII, Ch. 4:
But, among the disciples of Socrates, Plato was the one who shone with a glory which far excelled that of the others, and who not unjustly eclipsed them all… To Plato is given the praise of having perfected philosophy… We must, nevertheless, insert into our work certain of those opinions which he expresses in his writings, whether he himself uttered them, or narrates them as expressed by others, and seems himself to approve of,-opinions sometimes favorable to the true religion, which our faith takes up and defends, and sometimes contrary to it… Plato… is justly preferred to all the other philosophers of the Gentiles…​
Sam, if the doctrine of exhaustive foreknowledge has developed directly from Christianity's mingling with pagan philosophy, then the force of the entire story of the Bible makes it abundantly clear that the future is open and both man and God change it continually.

Aristotle (B.C. 384-322)

Neoplatonism won the theologian’s popularity contest over Aristotle, but he still left his mark. He is famous for the unmovable mover, the Source of all is that which is eternal and unmovable and so our theological giants in unison chant: God is unmovable. Aristotle was against divine change (which is required for Life), and he described four species of movement: change in location, alteration, diminution, and growth. And thus to classical and reformed theology, the enemy of God’s glory is not—ordaining evil—it’s change!

Plotinus (A.D. 204-270)

The father of Augustine’s beloved neoplatonism, Plotinus wrote in Enneads III, Ch. 7, sec. 3:
Then we reconstruct… a sole Life in the Supreme… a Life never varying, not becoming what previously it was not, the thing immutably itself… and knowing this, we know Eternity. We know it as a Life changelessly motionless…; not this now and now that other, but always all; not existing now in one mode and now in anothernothing in it ever knows development: all remains identical within itself, knowing nothing of change, for ever in a Now since nothing of it has passed away or will come into being, but what it is now, that it is ever. … “…the Identity in the Divinehas no futurity… and could it come to be anything which it is not once for all? …it cannot include any past; … Futurity, similarly, is banned; … that which enjoys stable existence as neither in process of change nor having ever changed- that is Eternity. Thus we come to the definition: the Life- instantaneously entire, complete, at no point broken into period or part- which belongs to the Authentic Existent by its very existence, this is the thing we were probing for- this is Eternity.”​
All of Christianity went after pagan Plotinus, who declared, God as “that which neither has been nor will be, but simply possesses being,” whereas the true God reveals Himself as, “Him who is and who was and who is to come” (Rev. 1:4)!

Augustine (A.D. 354-430)

As God made the heavens and the earth, He “saw that it was good,” and immediately after the great sixth day of creation, God rejoiced at the work of His hands, for “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good!” But the cold pagan Greek conception of God could allow the deity no such enjoyment, or enrichment, or appreciation, or increase, by His becoming the Creator. But if the Son could become flesh (one of the greatest conceivable changes), then surely God could become the Creator, and He did, and He enjoyed it! But for centuries, Christian theology could not allow that such to be said of God, because Plato once uttered a similar sentiment, but Augustine was wise enough to know his true meaning, that God’s immutability would not allow Him even to be blessed by the work of His hands, and so interpreting Moses by Plato’s principles, Augustine, City of God, Book XI, Ch. 21:
…when the universe was completed… Plato was not so foolish as to mean by this that God was rendered more blessed by the novelty of His creation… For He… beholds all things with absolute unchangeableness… -Saint Augustine​
Absolute unchangeableness? Absolute unchangeableness? Sam, that sounds just like “utter immutability,” doesn’t it? (And by the way, below I’m finally going to quote Reymond, but about the Greeks.) So neo-platonic thought permeated Augustine’s hermeneutic, and those committed first to God will search for that intellectual virus and eradicate it and its symptoms from Christian theology.

And finally, in City of God, Book V, Ch. 9:
Now the expression, "Once hath He spoken," is to be understood as meaning "immovably," that is, unchangeably hath He spoken, inasmuch as He knows unchangeably all things which shall be, and all things which He will do.​
That means that? Sam, meet Sam. That means that only if you’re a neo-platonist. Yet in this chapter Augustine says, “to deny that He has foreknowledge of future things, is the most manifest folly.” This Greek philosopher is unqualified to make that judgment! He’s too biased.

Martin Luther (A.D. 1483-1546)

The Reformation’s theology and education was co-mingled with neoplatonism. Martin Luther, himself an Augustinian monk, worked to bring Humanism (Greek philosophy), into the service of the Gospel. He wrote of his primary ally, Philip Melanchthon, “This little Greek even surpasses me in theology”, for Melanchthon took a Greek name for himself as part of his studies in Humanism. Melanchthon, sometimes called the “father of evangelical theology,” wrote the first great confession of the Reformation, Confessio Augustana, and the first summary of Reformed theology. Also influenced by Aquinas, Melanchthon developed the concept of the modern high school, and wrote many “textbooks and founded schools” all influenced by Greek philosophy, and once planned, but never produce, a “genuine text of Aristotle,” although throughout his life was identified with Humanism.

Calvin (A.D. 1509-1564)

Writing about God’s eternal foreordination of the elect and the damned, Calvin quoted Augustine and then summed up his influence from, and personal allegiance to, Augustine:

Were we disposed to frame an entire volume out of Augustine, it were easy to show the reader that I have no occasion to use any other words than his [than Augustine’s!]” -Calvin’s Institutes, Book 3, Chap 22, Sec 8

Neoplatonism disallows God changing, moving, emoting, knowing something different, etc., therefore when the Bible says that God repents, Calvin insists that is only a figure of speech meaning that He does not repent, and here he offers the rationale that since there is no “emotion in him” and yet the Bible says often God exhibits emotion, thus we should interpret all such passages as mere figures of speech:

God “is incapable of every feeling… when we hear that God is angry, we ought not to imagine that there is any emotion in him, but ought rather to consider the mode [figure] of speech…” -Calvin’s Institutes, Book 1, XVII, xiii

Calvin used not a biblical but a neo-platonic hermeneutic. Thus:

When it is said that God repented of having made Saul king, the term change is used figuratively. Shortly after, it is added, "The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent," (1 Sam. 15:29.) In these words, his immutability is plainly asserted without figure. -Calvin’s Institutes, Book I, Ch. 17

The historical context shows that God actually did repent of offering Saul a perpetual dynasty, and God will not “repent” of having actually repented concerning His offer to Saul. Calvin can ignore the historical context because he prioritizes neo-platonic immutability above all.

Secondary Sources

Microsoft’s Encarta encyclopedia entry for Philosophy, Western, Medieval:
The religious teachings of the Gospels were combined by the Fathers of the Church with many of the philosophical concepts of the Greek and Roman schools… which drew upon metaphysical ideas of Aristotle and Plotinus to establish important Christian doctrines…​

Clement (d. 215), head of the Christian Catechetical seminary in Alexandria, extolled “the divine character of the philosophy of Plato.”

Thomas Aquinas (A.D. 1225-1274), the father of Christianity’s enormously influential scholastic movement, which was a renewed effort to merge Greek philosophy with Christian theology. Aquinas was “emphatically Aristotelian” with neo-platonic influence having written many volumes on philosophy, including thirteen “commentaries on Aristotle.”

The scholarly textbook you teach from, Sam, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, written by your former professor, Dr. Reymond, has a section about those who deny either Christ’s deity or His humanity, so it is not indexed or directly related to this topic of Greek philosophy, but thankfully, in a 1,200 page book, I happened upon it. Covering A.D. 325-451 on the controversy among church fathers about who Christ is, Reymond writes:
…their creedal terms were sometimes the terms of earlier and current philosophy, those terms nonetheless served the church well… [and the terms included] “without change” (or [without] transmutation)… -Reymond, p. 1,096​
And not speaking of himself, Reymond describes “a modern dissatisfaction with [these church father’s] usage of Greek philosophical terminology…” (ibid.). And Reymond describes that earlier church period, “A.D. 418,” as exhibiting the church’s “best creedal moments” (ibid. p. 468) for “every Christian should be in this sense ‘Augustinian’ in his soteric [salvation] beliefs.”

While Reymond treats the historical development of theology at length including positive and negative influences, of the major Greek thinkers his Index of Persons has only a single, solitary entry under just one philosopher, Plato, pointing to a positive influence. His Index of Subjects makes no mention of any related topic such as Aristoteleanism, Platonism, neoplatonism, etc. And in his section on the teachings of Christ from the apostolic fathers, Reymond writes (p. 585), “we find nothing doctrinally definite, (that is, definitive) in regard to… the relationship of the divine and human in his person.” And later he writes about Origen (d. 254 A.D.):
Origen became the greatest biblical scholar… and philosopher-theologian (see his De principiis) of his day. But regrettably it must be acknowledged that Origen’s writings are seriously flawed due to his commitment to Platonism.​
[And though] a Christian theologian… his depiction of God was in some significant respects more Greek than biblical.​
[Yet] he continues to hold a place in the front ranks of early Christian theologians simply because he is so important to an understanding of the history of Christian doctrine that followed him. -Reymond, pp. 593, 595​
Christian theology began amidst a crisis of pagan Greek influence, and that crisis entered Roman Catholicism unabated, and was welcomed into the Reformation. And if not for the Openness movement authors and unknown heroes, virtually all Christians today would still be completely unaware of the pagan Greek heritage preached from the pulpits.

World Book Encyclopedia 1986, Reformation Schools, "Protestant leaders… promoted literacy, an educational curriculum based on ancient Greek and Roman literature…"

When I call Augustine the most influential Christian theologian, that is true even if you include the prophets and the apostles who wrote the Bible, because Christianity filters biblical truth through his platonic commitments. However, if we broaden the potential candidate list to include pagans, then indisputably Plato, the pagan Greek philosopher, is the most influential Christian theologian.

Summation

So, how do we sum this up? Oh yeah, Settled Viewers deny there is a problem here.

Right now, I happen to be debating a Calvinist, but for the Settled View Arminian reader, please take to heart the pagan source of immutability and exhaustive foreknowledge. I am glad that Scripture teaches that God can change the future! It’s liberating to trust Him! Arminius did well fighting to recover God’s righteousness, human responsibility and true relationship, but his reforms, like Luther’s, failed to break with Greek philosophy.

Let me illustrate Sam’s contradictions, whose philosophical loyalty has sacrificed the ability to apply Judaeo-Christian reason and biblical truth (lower case t, as in non-contradictory logic), such that he claims (in my words, not his) that:
God alone, originally, intentionally and specifically ordained all hatred, murder, filth, and adultery, yet He is not the author of sin.​
What does it take to swallow that? Determined commitment to irrational Greek immutability!

Further, Sam has a will, and so he gets to exercise it by determining which text he will use to interpret the other: Calvin’s, or God’s? John Calvin who wrote, “God in his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom… it was his pleasure to doom to destruction,” (Calvin’s Institutes, Book III, Ch. 21, vii). Yet all along, before neoplatonism, God declared, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (-God, Ezek. 33:11). So honoring his neo-platonist commitment, Sam takes Calvin’s passage literally, and the inspired passage as figurative.

Sam, you wrote that you believe in free will. But you didn’t volunteer to the reader what that means to a Calvinist. Here is an example of what you call free will: God unalterably and irresistibly ordained that a certain man will murder an Idaho mother, kidnap her children, torment and kill the son, molest and then rape the little girl, orchestrating this to the number of penetrations, and the man has no ability to desire otherwise, or to do otherwise, or to resist this causal predestination in anyway whatsoever, and you call that free will. As you wrote in Post 1A:
In fairness I will state that I believe free will indicates that an agent will always be free to do what he or she chooses. -A Calvinist[/INDENT]
Fairness? Sam, the more committed you are to fundamentally irrational Greek philosophical ideas, the more discernment you lose concerning related matters, such that you think it glorifies and brings God pleasure to have men sodomize children, and you attribute wickedness to His foreordination, thereby embracing the greatest contradictions the mind can conceive of. Why would you think that God would want you to be fair? You think God ordained David’s adultery and murder which destroyed his family and even his nation. Perhaps God will ordain you to murder one of your unsaved loved ones? And you think that would bring Him pleasure. So if God could ordain His servants to murder and rape, then duplicity in debate could glorify Him too! No? Especially in defense of changelessness! Fairness? Fair to the naïve reader who thought he was reading your actual definition of free will? Fair?

Jesus warned:
Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? … “Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” -Mat. 15:3, 9b​
Last year, on our Bible Tour of Turkey, we went to Iznik, (Nicea, where Emperor Constantine possibly presided over the first draft of the Nicene Creed), but more excitedly, to a dozen biblical locations, including the city of the Colossians (on the road to Efes, the city of Ephesus, which anciently was their nearest metropolitan center of Greek culture). At the Hotel Colossae, a few of us from Denver Bible Church witnessed for ninety minutes to Professor Vishal Gujral, the son of the just-replaced Prime Minister of India, and when his world-class education and humanist beliefs left him unable to figure out why communist countries all turned their nations into prisons, with guards shooting those trying to escape, we left him with a Bible verse. Sam, I end with the same verse for you:
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8​
Questions and Answers

Sam, this is going to be strong. Please brace yourself. I think you’ve used a ploy in your latest round. To minimize attention to, and even justify, your own unresponsiveness, you’ve decided to claim that I’m simply not answering your questions, let alone addressing your arguments. I make a promise to the readers: I will directly reply to any part of my rebuttals that Sam specifically challenges. On the other hand, I’d rather not burn words explaining my explanations unless Sam specifically challenges a point with something other than that he disagrees. And Sam, if you can be thankful for a tanker taking out your house, a bit of gratitude for my debate style must not be too much to ask :) . After all, we’ve trained signed, notarized Assignments of Copyright so that both sides have the right to publish the debate. And my trademark argument as to who wins a debate has long been, dating from before Battle Royale VII, that whoever promotes the finished debate may not have won, but at least he thinks he won! And whoever forgets about the debate, thinks he lost. So, since I’m planning on promoting the living daylights out of this thing, Sam, I’m hoping you can argue hard to help me find any errors in my position so that I can correct them before Round Ten!

Sam’s Questions Answered

Sam, please ask more specific questions. I have to guess what among hundreds of words you want addressed, and then repeat your argument so that the reader knows what we’re talking about. Also, if you are going to change or add to a question, please use a new number. You ask general questions, and I answer yours. I ask specific questions, and you don’t answer mine.

SLQ8- Bob would you please respond specifically to the exegesis of Matthew 6:8, in particular my claim and arguments that this passage does not only speak of present knowledge?

BEA-SLQ8-B: BEA-SLQ8 addressed all your arguments except for the future aspects of Lord’s Prayer, to which I reply that God can answer, “Thy will be done,” without violating human will because He wills to reward those who repent, and punish those who do not. That requires neither exhaustive foreknowledge, nor violation of human will.

SLQ9-B- Would you please respond specifically to my exegesis of the prediction of Peter’s denial taking into account the points that I have made in this as well as the first post?

BEA-SLQ9-B: I’ll reply to the only new issue you raise, that my verse list from Luke’s books failed to make my point. I showed that ??? does not always mean had to, as in divine destiny or fate, but it also means had to, as in what is fitting, what behooves, what ought to be done, etc., as in, “we had to throw a party, it was his birthday!” For this extremely common word, you said since I only quoted Luke’s uses, and not Peter’s, my argument failed (since Peter is the one Luke quoted in Acts 1:16). Sam, I did list a verse that Peter spoke, Acts 5:29, and his use of ??? there also doesn’t mean fate or divine destiny, it means that we Christians should obey God, which often we do not. By the way, toward the “all things work together for good,” goal, perhaps the elders of DenverBibleChurch.org :) will authorize the purchase of a new BGDA lexicon (it’s $125 on Amazon) since you dissed my old one :( .

SLQ-11- Would you please respond specifically to the exegesis showing that Jesus based proof of his deity on the correct prediction about Judas?

BEA-SLQ11-B: Regarding your claim that John 13:19 is a deity verse, I answered BEA-SQ11. I’m surprised that you, being a Greek teacher, are trying to justify your translation with the claim that to be the Christ is de facto “a claim to Deity.” I already had said, “you can take it that way interpretatively,” (which is what you are doing). But you were claiming grammatical justification, and you just made a non-grammatical argument, and Sam then you used the “trust me” defense because you’ve been published (which I respect). But an expert with an answer would have responded to my two substantive rebuttals, that (1) the KJV/NKJV/NIV translators are not “certain” as you are but render as I’ve defended; and (2) “we’d have various gods running around the New Testament” if we translated the word GOD, per your predicate nominative “rule.” Finally, you would mark as incorrect any student’s translation of ??????? (Christ) as God, rebutting your own latest argument.

SLQ12-B- Would you please respond specifically to the exegesis showing that Judas did not have the ability to choose otherwise, particularly the exegesis found in this post as well as post III.

BEA-SLQ12-B: In addition to BEA-SLQ11 and BEA-SLQ12, I add BEA-SLQ11-B, and finally… I bring to bear the honest [BEA-]SLQ4! There! Oh, and to that I might as well add the venerable BEA-SLQ2 and the vigorous [BEA-]SLQ7! Sam, I’ve already asked you not to request that I explain my explanations without you specifically rebutting SOMETHING. I challenge your answers specifically, perhaps you can try doing likewise. It’s fun! It shows me whether or not I actually have an answer, which self-evaluation I find rewarding, and also, the readers will enjoy a more robust debate!

SLQ13- Would you agree that if Peter and/or Judas did not have the ability to choose otherwise then your definition of free will (or will as you put it) is flawed? If not, why not?

SLQ14- Would you explain (given your response in Post II) how it is possible for Jesus (whom we both agree is God) to be wrong and yet for God to hold no false beliefs?

SLQ15- Would you be willing to pick out three passages or pericopes as I have done above and let the debate center on the word of God and what the word tells us about God?

BEA-SLQ15: Not at this time. You stated in round one that we can both list our own verses as proof texts, but the question of Openness “centers upon hermeneutics,” for “the question, of course, is which set of passages will be used to interpret the other.” -Sam 1A.

Sam, your “question” has not become less central since you put it into the introduction of your first post. However, the Settled View’s general discomfort with such fundamental matters is illustrated by your avoiding what matters most. Sure we can get racquets and bat around a few verses, but by me pressing toward the heart of the matter, the readers will learn which position has biblical answers and which avoids questions as we probe and defend our underlying principles.

Questions for Sam

Sam, I’m asking this question again, because from my understanding, it goes to the heart of the debate. I am NOT asking if God is timeless. I am NOT asking if God can have relationships. I am asking whether God is able to change, such that He can have relationships. This really is a yes or no question. Also, an “I don’t know,” or “I don’t want to answer because I’m not sure where that will lead us,” would also be truthful. So please, if only to humor me, please Sam, could you answer?

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

Next, I wrote that your quote from the Westminster Confession proved it was confused, and you objected that “Enyart does not tell us why.” But you missed my evidence, I said that it was “self-contradictory,” meaning that it was contradictory on the face of it. In your quote from debate authority Dr. Zarefsky, you indicated that when something “is self-defeating on its face,” no burden of disproof exists. I count nine contradictions in this brief quote, and I’ll underline the words that illustrate only contradiction.

The Westminster Confession states it this way: III.1 “God, from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”​

Calvinists commonly admit such contradictions by happily referring to them as antinomies, as did pastor Leonard Coppes, a member of the NKJV translation team, when I brought up God’s righteousness at a church picnic. After all, neo-platonic Augustine wrote, “we embrace both,” willing to undermine God’s evident goodness to uphold neo-platonic immutability.

So, toward all things working together for good, let’s try to further the debate even from my missing the humor in your Peter argument:

BEQ28: Sam, now that you have agreed that without exhaustive foreknowledge, God can make a rooster crow, then do you also agree that God could employ His abilities in various other ways toward fulfilling prophecies, similarly without relying upon exhaustive foreknowledge?

Sam, I can relate to your displeasure when one’s integrity is challenged for no good reason. Your taking offense alerted me to the way that BEQ26 could be easily misconstrued. I had a different reason for asking whether you could point to a previous public stand on the issue (on TV, in a paper, and I should have added: a lesson taught to your class, which would have shown that I was not distrusting your word, since that would not have been otherwise easily verifiable.) People who are forced by argument to change some position they hold typically don’t even admit to themselves that they have changed that position. To overcome that common human tendency, I was trying to push you to think hard about what you have said publicly about this issue, and not allow you to just assume my question merited only passing attention. I want to establish with certainty your current and previous positions on the attributes of the Incarnation. You know that I believe that this topic addresses the core issue in this debate. And since you found my ambiguous question “offensive,” that would make it all the more difficult to find the commitment to an introspective answer. I really hope to be assured in that, so while your answer indicates that you have always personally held this position, let me ask you:

BEQ29: Have you previously specifically taught others, your students, or your family, or your friends, that God the Son did not in any way give up in any degree any of the divine attributes?

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

LIFETIME MEMBER
LIFETIME MEMBER
DING - DING -DING

That's it for round number five.

Round six has begun and Dr. Lamerson is now on the clock and has until August 26th 10:15AM (MDT) to make his 5th post.

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

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

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Samuel Lamerson

New member
Battle Royale X
Post 6​

First of all let me say that I really appreciate many of you in the grandstands that are watching the debate and trying to follow the arguments. I know that the vast majority of you love Rev. Enyart and have been greatly blessed by his teaching. I know how difficult it must be to try to keep an open mind to the arguments when you have such respect for Rev. Enyart. I am only writing with the hope that some of you will see that the position I am espousing is Biblical. That, after all is the ultimate test.

Second, I must apologize for two things, first the caustic method in which I treated one of the questions from the last round. I see now that the intent was not to question my integrity and I apologize for making that assumption (insert your own joke here). Second for the formatting of this post. I am using a new version of Note Bene (my word processor) and am having a little trouble with double and single spacing.

Third, there is a hurricane bearing down on us here at the seminary. I would ask that you pray that God would keep us all safe, and that our buildings would be without damage. I know that we have a different idea about what prayer accomplishes (for a great book on the many different ideas about what prayer actually does see “Providence and Prayer” by Tiessen) but we both agree that God has commanded it, and that God uses it so I would appreciate your prayers for the students, faculty and staff. As you might imagine, I have a few other things on my mind this morning, and don’t know how long our network will hold out so I wanted to get this off. This is not an excuse or a request for more time! The response is what I want it to be.

ON HERMENEUTICS

Rev. Enyart asks about my hermeneutic. Let me say that in a nutshell my hermeneutic is to find out what the author (both earthly and heavenly) intended to communicate by his writing. Note that this is what Rev. Enyart did as well when we actually engaged on a particular text (Acts 1). He went to a lexicon to determine the meaning of a word (more on that later). More specifically, however, hermeneutics is a complex subject that many books have been written about. There are questions like “Does Paul mean for us to keep slaves?” and “Is it wrong to wear gold jewelry?” Only a very carefully crafted hermeneutic can answer those questions.

Because hermeneutical decisions do not take place in a vacuum, texts must be chosen and dealt with. The only way to tell the value of anyone's hermeneutic is to apply it to a text. This is the reason that I as Rev. Enyart to choose three passages (note passages, not just a verse or two). And so Rev. Enyart, I put the question to you again. given the above statements about Hermeneutics .

BEA-SLQ15:

The purpose of the debate, as I see it, is to have clash over major issues. As the debate progresses the issues should not widen but deepen. That is the debaters should choose their best arguments and attempt to extend on them. The problem here is that Rev. Enyart and I disagree over what the most important issues are. I believe that the Bible teaches that God knows the future. I have put forward two specific instances of free agents to prove this and I do not believe that Rev. Enyart’s answers have come anywhere near adequately dealing with my arguments.

I will attempt to put forth more evidence for my claims that the three passages that I have chosen show that God foreknows the decisions of free agents. At this point I am not willing to move on to other passages simply because these arguments (in my opinion) have not been answered.

PRAYER AGAIN

First let me respond to the fact that Rev. Enyart has argued that this prayer only means that God knows the present. All that Jesus says is that the Father knows our needs before we ask. But our needs may very well exist before we ask God to meet them (or even know of them ourselves). Thus might it not be the case that what God knows are needs that we currently have before we bring to God in prayer? In that case, his would be a marvelously comprehensive knowledge of the present circumstances of his children, but not foreknowledge.

In response, I would argue that the context of Matthew 6 does not support the elimination of a future aspect to God's knowledge. Jesus' affirmation of the Father's knowledge is meant to move his disciples to prayer, and, especially in Matt 6:32, to turn to prayer as an antidote to anxiety. But what are we not to worry about? Matt 6:25 and 31 specify things like food, drink and clothing. But are these only present concerns? The parallel command in Matt 6:34 ("Do not worry about tomorrow") puts a future orientation to the issue of worry vs. prayer for the disciples of Jesus. Certainly we are not to worry but rather to pray about our present needs and concerns (cf. Matt 6:11, "Give us today our daily bread"). But this does not eliminate the importance of our praying about our future needs. These too are to be entrusted to God in prayer in obedience to Jesus command not to worry about tomorrow (Matt 6:34). All of this is to say that the needs the Father knows we have (6:32) even before we ask him (6:8) include future needs. Thus the Father's knowledge of our needs does indeed include his knowledge of future events.

But for our discussion, the question still needs to be asked. Does this foreknowledge of the Father include free human decisions? A moment's reflection will indicate that our future needs are shaped and determined by a whole host of free human decisions or potential free decisions. Take, for example, the issue of whether I will have enough food to eat at some point in the future. The answer to that is in part determined by what appear at first glance to be non-human factors like the weather (e.g. will there be a drought or not?). Yet even here, there certainly exists the possibility that freely chosen human actions might in fact influence the weather (e.g. the use of fossil fuels that contribute to global warming). And there are a myriad of other human decisions that will enter into the equation as well. Will there be a war that will interfere with the supply of food? Will I decide to get/keep a job to earn the income to buy food? Will an employer hire me? And on and on and on. Thus, if God knows in advance what all our needs will be, he must know all the free decisions (and potential free decisions) that will shape those needs. And if, as this passage clearly seems to imply, God also knows in advance what will best meet those needs, there are a whole host of other free decisions he must know. Therefore, I would argue that the kind of divine foreknowledge that Jesus is appealing to here in the Sermon on the Mount does in fact include God's foreknowledge of free human decisions.

In order to make these questions clear I will begin numbering these questions by the argument.

Prayer-1: Would you agree that Jesus’ claim that our “Father in heaven knows what we have need of before we ask?” includes the Father’s knowledge of future events?

Prayer-2: Would you agree that Jesus’ claim includes knowledge of future events that include free human decisions?



PETER AGAIN

At the risk of causing some in the grandstands to call for my head on a silver platter, I must again say that Rev. Enyart has not answered my questions concerning Peter. To avoid confusion, and aid Rev. Enyart in following the questions (he asks in his last that I make my questions more specific and that I respond to his answers).

Here again is what I have already shown:

Just prior to his prediction of Peter’s three-fold denial, Jesus described the spiritual attack Peter would undergo

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But [Peter] replied, “Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 2:31-32)

Thus immediately prior to Jesus’ specific prediction of Peter’s denials that would result from this Satanic sifting, Jesus also predicted Peter’s ultimate repentance from his sin (“when you have turned back”) and the nature of his future ministry (“strengthen your brothers”). Thus the text describes Jesus as having absolute knowledge that Peter would sin, how often he would sin, when he would sin, and that he would repent.
Rev. Enyart has argued that God was orchestrating all of these circumstances so as to make certain that Peter would deny him (or more correctly that a rooster would crow, since he really avoids the question of Peter). For God to orchestrate all these factors (fleeing of other disciples, betrayal of Judas, Peter being left alone, Peter being asked the question three times) he would have to overrule human freedom on many, many occasions. If God did orchestrate all of these events then was God actively involved in trapping Peter in sin?

Peter-1 Did Jesus know in advance that Peter would betray him?

Peter-2: Did Jesus know in advance the time that Peter would betray him?

Peter-3 If Jesus could have been wrong about this prediction what else could he have been wrong about?

Peter-4 If Jesus knew in advance that Peter was going to betray him, was Peter still responsible for his actions?

Peter-5 Did God orchestrate the events that would cause Peter to betray Christ?

JUDAS AGAIN

Again, Rev. Enyart has not dealt with the arguments that I put forth. Look again at the prediction found in Matthew’s Gospel

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born. Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” (Matt 26:20-25)

There are several elements of this passage that are worthy of comment. (1) Jesus’ prediction moves from general to specific. To the Twelve, Jesus says first of all, “One of you will betray me.” At this point, it could be any of them, as evidenced by their questions to Jesus in vs. 22. Jesus’ second statement, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me,” is no less general. For all who were eating with Jesus would have dipped their hands into the bowl with him. Jesus’ point here seems not to specify the one particular individual who would betray him, but to highlight the fact that the betrayer “is a friend, someone close, someone sharing the common dish, thus heightening the enormity of the betrayal.” The specific identification comes in Matt 26:25, in which Judas asks specifically if it is he, and Jesus responds, “Yes, it is you.”

(2) The interaction between Jesus and Judas in Matt 26:25 likely took place quietly, as is suggested by John 13:27-28. Blomberg notes that if vs. 25 was a private conversation, it would mean that Judas was sitting next to Jesus, in one of the two most favored positions, either on his right or his left. This would speak to the love Jesus had for the one he knew would betray him, and his efforts to try to dissuade Judas from his course of betrayal.

(3) Jesus’ words in vs. 24 affirm both the definite certainty of Judas’ betrayal and the grave moral guilt incurred by the one who betrayed his Master. The certainty of the betrayal is owing both to the necessity of the fulfillment of Scripture (“The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him”) and to the sovereign, redemptive decree of God (Luke 22:22, “The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed”). Yet this divine necessity does not invalidate the freedom and moral responsibility of Judas, for Jesus pronounces a woe on him.

Judas 1-If the dei in Acts 1:16 does not mean “it is necessary” was Peter mistaken about the prophecy of David? Keep in mind that he does not say “someone” but that the prophecy was about “Judas.”

Judas 2- You mention that you want to follow the NKJV which translates the text as “Scripture had to be fulfilled.” Can you let me know how that allows for a non-fulfillment?

Judas 3-The next time we see Peter speaking about the death of Christ is in Acts 2:23 where Peter again says that Christ’s delivery to be crucified was the plan of God, but that the men who engaged in it were still responsible. Is this not a clear indication of God’s preplanning an event and yet still holding those who engaged in the evil event responsible?

Judas 4-Does Christ base his deity on the accuracy of his predictions (John 13:19; please see response below)?

Here is your response to the former question:

BEA-SLQ11-B: Regarding your claim that John 13:19 is a deity verse, I answered BEA-SQ11. I’m surprised that you, being a Greek teacher, are trying to justify your translation with the claim that to be the Christ is de facto “a claim to Deity.” I already had said, “you can take it that way interpretatively,” (which is what you are doing). But you were claiming grammatical justification, and you just made a non-grammatical argument, and Sam then you used the “trust me” defense because you’ve been published (which I respect). But an expert with an answer would have responded to my two substantive rebuttals, that (1) the KJV/NKJV/NIV translators are not “certain” as you are but render as I’ve defended; and (2) “we’d have various gods running around the New Testament” if we translated the word GOD, per your predicate nominative “rule.” Finally, you would mark as incorrect any student’s translation of cri~to~ (Christ) as God, rebutting your own latest argument.

SL RESPONSE

I am afraid that Rev. Enyart’s lack of training in linguists and in Biblical Greek betray him here. I don’t blame him for that, he is obviously brilliant in other areas. I am not brilliant in the area of Biblical Greek, but I am well trained by people whose brilliance I would never contest (Murray Harris, Scot McKnight, Grant Osborne, and D.A. Carson for example). I list these names not to show off, but to let you know that I have been well trained by a number of men whose work cannot be questioned.

There are a number of problems with Rev. Enyart's answer:

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

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

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

4. As to allowing Greek students to translate Christ as God, you must realize that simply because two words happen to overlap in a language does not mean that they are always transferable.

In short your denial that Jesus is claiming deity here is mistaken. Let us now look to more evidence that Jesus was claiming his own deity.

Here Jesus is telling his disciples the reason for his predictions of Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial. It is to prepare his disciples for what is to come, with the goal of preserving and strengthening their faith. He knew that their faith might well be shattered by the events that would soon transpire. But, as Morris writes (in his commentary on John 13:19),

"The prediction altered all that. It ensured that, on reflection, they would continue to see His mastery of the situation. When He was betrayed into the hands of His enemies it was just what He had foretold. He was not the deceived and helpless Victim of unsuspected treachery, but One sent by God to effect God’s purposes going forward, calmly and unafraid, to do what God had planned for him to do."

But Jesus was not only concerned to sustain and to strengthen the faith of his disciples. He was also concerned with the content of their faith. His goal was that, after the unfolding events would prove his predictions to be accurate and true, his disciples would believe that ego eimi (“I am he”). Jesus had previously claimed this title for himself in John 8:24, 28 and especially in 8:58. This expression has massive theological significance in the LXX. It is used to translate the name God gave to himself in Exod 3:14 (“I am who I am” = ego eimi ho on). And the LXX uses ego eimi to translate the equivalent Hebrew phrase ’enî h in Deut 32:39; Isa 4:4; 43:10; 46:4; Ezek 24:24; etc. All of these passages involve Yahweh’s claim to be the one true and living God. The point in John 13 is clear. What Jesus is seeking to sustain and to strengthen through is predictions is precisely his disciples’ faith in his own deity. This concern of Jesus is strengthened by the very high Christological claim that Jesus makes in the very next verse. “Whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me” (John 13:20).

The parallels of John 13:19 with the LXX’s (Greek translation of the OT from about 300 BC) rendering of Isa 41:4 (“Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD – with the first of them and with the last – I am he [ego eimi].”) and Isa 43:10 (“You are my witnesses, declares the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he [ego eimi].”) are especially important, for they come in contexts where Yahweh’s foreknowledge is the evidence he cites of his unique and unrivaled deity. Thus in the same way that Yahweh appeals to his foreknowledge and his ability to predict the future in Isaiah 40:48 to demonstrate his deity, so here in John 13 Jesus appeals to his foreknowledge of Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial and to his ability to tell his disciples of these events before they happened as supreme evidence of his deity. Just as Yahweh stakes his claim to deity on his foreknowledge of the free actions of Cyrus, so here Jesus stakes his claim to deity on his ability to foreknow and to predict the free actions of Judas and Peter.

It is exceedingly hard to see why Jesus would do this if all he possessed were a probabilistic forecast based on his insight into the character of Judas and Peter.

Judas-5 Jesus states in his prayer that “None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. “ Does this indicate that Judas was doomed to destruction while Christ was praying? Before Christ was praying?

Non-Answered Questions:

Note that (unless I missed them and that is possible) Rev. Enyart has failed to answer SLQ13; 14 as well as being unwilling to pick out a few passages. It is my contention that the only way this debate will ever make progress is for both Rev. Enyart and myself to “do hand to hand combat” over particular texts. This, in my opinion, is where the debate should be headed.


Answers to Bob Enyart’s Questions

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

As I have mentioned there are a variety of different meanings for the word change. He can certainly have a relationship within the Trinity and with his creatures. I have affirmed that, perhaps not as clearly as I should have.

BEQ28: Sam, now that you have agreed that without exhaustive foreknowledge, God can make a rooster crow, then do you also agree that God could employ His abilities in various other ways toward fulfilling prophecies, similarly without relying upon exhaustive foreknowledge?

As I have mentioned above, if one wants to take this approach (and I don’t because a rooster is not a free human being) it does not solve the problem and makes God guilty of entrapment (unless you accept my definition of free will). I see no need for this because I believe that God ordains all things.

BEQ29: Have you previously specifically taught others, your students, or your family, or your friends, that God the Son did not in any way give up in any degree any of the divine attributes?
Since I have thought through the issue (probably around 1990) I have always believed and taught that Jesus did not give up any of his divine attributes.

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

Since I believe and have argued from the Bible I certainly want to hold to nothing but what the Bible teaches. I believe all Christians should always hold Scripture in authority over any creed, confession, church father or pastor.

Conclusion:

Again, let me thank all of you and ask that you do your best to see the argument from my side. I know that this is as difficult as it would be for me to ask my students to examine openness from Rev. Enyart’s side. Believe it or not, I do try to present the best arguments for the opposition that I can when I am in class. To do otherwise is dishonest. If I have missed or misrepresented any of the questions that Rev. Enyart has asked, it has been because of my own frailty, not out of a desire to avoid them.

May God’s Love Be With You Rev. Enyart and With All Who Read This,

Samuel Lamerson
 

Bob Enyart

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 6B

Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 6B

First, let me send a sincere thank you to Pastor Bob Hill of Derby Bible Church for introducing me twenty years ago to the truth that God is free to change the future, demonstrating that the Open View scriptures represent the obvious story of the whole Bible and corroborating my understanding of a holy and relational God. A month later, I dropped out of Arizona State University and left a job designing simulation software for the Apache Helicopter to move my family to Colorado so that I could study Scripture with Bob at his unaccredited Derby School of Theology (which for thirty years has provided unequivocally the strongest Greek education available in Colorado, and in my opinion, the best theological training in America). Again, thank you Bob, you have my love and respect forever!

And Sam, thank you for sharing about your family. The loss of loved ones is so difficult, but when they know the Lord, we can be thankful that we will enjoy them forever, and not “sorrow as others who have no hope.” Some of my best friends are Settled Viewers :) , and I would love to meet you in person and fellowship over a meal.

I’ve promised that in the sixth round, I would present the argument for the Open View. Sam, you were exactly right when you said of my New Openness Attribute Hermeneutic, that “By calling itself an ‘openness’ hermeneutic, it assumes the very question that is up for debate.” Of course, that would be called circular reasoning. I presented the NOAH hermeneutic not to prove openness, but so that you or any reader could use it to determine the Openness interpretation of any passage. I decided to not even attempt to establish the Open View in the first half of the debate, for before I could even try that, I first had to get non-committed readers to at least be willing to question the Settled View. We should have the courage to challenge our own views, asking if the Bible really teaches various doctrines. So I addressed your proof texts about Judas and Peter arguing that, just like Nineveh, God values human beings and repentance more highly than proving He could predict the future. My argument is that general immutability is not biblical but pagan, and that God’s actual attributes have a divine hierarchy, and “beyond all contradiction the lesser” must not take precedence over the greater, and proper interpretation will reflect this. You have rejected my attributes argument. However, in addition to Creation, and all of God’s other accomplishments, the Incarnation blasts immutability to shreds, God the Son eternally existing as spirit, becoming flesh and now forever existing as a Man, represents infinite mutability and is the third greatest conceivable change (there are two greater still). So, to defend your view that Jesus did not empty Himself of any of the traditional quantitative attributes, you have to successfully argue, against the weight of the Gospel, that God the Son was as immutable, through the Incarnation, as you claim for the Father, eternally. That cannot be done.

So now I will give you the hermeneutic that can be used to prove Openness. Noah showed that God could repent from being merciful when man continues in sin. Jonah showed, more gloriously, that God could repent by being merciful when man repents. And the Babe in Bethlehem showed us who God truly is, for wise men came to the stable, to “worship Him” (Mat. 2:2). Yet that Infant was God the Son, who had just undergone extraordinary change, in order to become our Savior. The hermeneutic to prove Openness is JONAH!

Jehovah’s Obvious Nativity Attributes Hermeneutic​

Holding her cooing newborn, any mom can tell you her baby’s attributes, of being living, personal, relational, and loving. But the sin inherited by the baby through the father will eventually express itself, and lead to death. And Mary would recognize an additional attribute in her Baby, because she did not conceive by a sinful man but of God as a virgin, therefore she could add to those four attributes: absolute goodness! For the angel promised her:
“The Holy Spirit will… overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God!”​
And then:
The Word became flesh…

and dwelt among us!​
He is alive, active, and capable, and so He could experience this extraordinary change, for “He humbled Himself!” and He “was made a little lower than the angels!”
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men!”​
This verse, Luke 2:52, shows change also in the Father! As with any good father, the blessing His Son brought to Him was not static (as would be insisted by Plato and Augustine), but increased! For He must increase! For He is God!

So while Jesus explicitly disavowed omniscience (Mark 13:32), God’s love for man through the Incarnation disproves the controlling doctrine of general immutability. So to Mary, and believers 2,000 years later, the Babe in the manger possessed the obvious attributes of being living, personal, relational, good, and loving. And by the Nativity itself, careful Bible students, along with mom, will reject general immutability! So, the obvious attributes of Jehovah God that the Son brought with Him through the Incarnation are those that all Christians readily admit were present in the manger!

Just as the results of the Flood, obvious worldwide, remind us that God repents, so too NOAH helps us see God’s Openness throughout Scripture. And appropriately, JONAH explains to us the reason why God values human souls more than fulfilled prophecy: because relationship and love are more important than immutability, knowledge, and power.

Now we can present Openness Theology, not rejecting but glorying in the divine attributes hierarchy. So let us throw off pagan preconceptions, and see how God reveals Himself to us, not just in three passages, but in His entire Bible, divided into thirds. For “in the volume of the book it is written of Me!”

Behold thy God:

The Open View

• The Trinity fellowshipped through eternity past, “before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24
• God created the universe, doing a new thing, which He could because He is living and active.
• God declares that He created matter and space, light, and life (Gen. 1:1, 3, 11, 20, 24, 26) but not time.
• God created thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, and authorities, not hoarding but delegating power.
• God “moved upon the face of the waters,” for He is not immobile, not timeless, and thus not immovable.
• God rejoiced at the work of His hands because He could increase in blessing.
• God is relational, thus interactive, for the persons of the Trinity willed to make man in “Our likeness!”
• God created sequentially, the earth before the fish, etc., and ceased from creating on the seventh day.
• God could create creatures “in His likeness,” themselves willful and creative!
• God gave mankind a vegetarian diet (which after the Flood he expanded to include every animal).
• God then for joy “brought [the animals] to Adam to see what he would call them!
• God put the Tree in the midst of the garden, as an unlocked door, giving man the choice to stay or leave.
• God showed providence in giving the earth to Adam and warning him that if you disobey, “you will die.”
• God put the archangel Lucifer in Eden not as tempter but as “the anointed Cherub who covers.”
• Lucifer fell “in Eden” saying “I will ascend into heaven… above… the clouds” to be like God.
• Eve joined the rebellion, not following a command that originated in God’s mind, but obeying fallen Lucifer.
• God did not attribute Adam’s sin to His own inexorable decree, but you “heeded the voice of your wife.”
• God’s providential warning proved true as death came to mankind as a result of their disobedience.
• Sin broke the perfection of God’s cosmos, so the Son by a prophetic Christophany confronted the rebels.
• Goodness exhibits loyalty; thus God declared that the Fall put enmity between Lucifer and Eve. Gen. 3:15
• God’s love restrained His swift vengeance, as He promised a Redeemer in the woman’s Seed.
• God considered the possibility (contingency) that man would avoid death by eating from the Tree of Life.
• God thus exiled Adam “lest he put out his hand and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever.”
• When Cain murdered Abel God forbade the death penalty (which prohibition He reversed after the Flood).
• Mankind multiplied and filled the earth with wickedness, perversion, and the murder of the innocent.
• Man’s sin did not please God but “grieved” Him, and He was “sorry that He had made man on the earth.”
• “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth” but He was not sorry for every man.
• “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD,” so God saved his family though they too would sin greatly.
• The Canaanites were cursed from their inception, not by arbitrary decree, but by Ham’s incest. Lev. 20:11
• God gave Abram the Covenant of Grace for “he believed,” and God “accounted it to him for righteousness.”
• God put the H sound of His own name into the names of Abram and Sarai, renaming His friend Abraham.
• And God soon took Abraham’s name to Himself, repeatedly calling Himself: “the God of Abraham!”
• God gave Abraham circumcision, the cutting off of the flesh, in the Covenant of Circumcision. Gen. 17
• “He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your silver must be circumcised” or will be “cut off!”
• God the Son fulfilled Circumcision by Incarnation and Crucifixion: born in the House of Israel; purchased with their silver; and “cut off” in the flesh.
• Abraham became “the friend of God” who believed he could possibly persuade God to spare Sodom.
• God said “you are a dead man” to Abimelech, who then justly blamed Abraham for concealing his marriage.
• God did not take Abimelech to an early day of reckoning, but only chastised him, until Abraham intervened.

Thus ends the first third of human history.

Why did God break open the fountains of the great deep? Not because He was sorry nor because He had repented of making ALL of mankind. For He was pleased with Noah and did not destroy his family “from the face of the earth.” Thus God’s repentance was not that He had even made mankind AT ALL! For He had already taken blessed Enoch to be with Him, and was enjoying the fellowship of men like righteous Abel. And if God had repented of making all men, He would have killed all men. Rather, mankind provoked Him [Jer. 25:6], abusing His merciful patience, by being fruitful and multiplying and filling the earth… with violence. It was this slowness of wrath that God repented of by destroying almost all mankind.

The floodwaters stored underground for contingent judgment killed even the unborn and newborns, toddlers, and young boys and girls, who were innocent! Augustinian tradition through Rome, Luther and Calvin misinterprets these deaths in that they deny the innocence of the children, contrary to Romans 9:11; 7:9-11; 1:21; 5:16, 18; Ezek. 18:20; etc. And Calvinistic protestants along with other Augustinians and Thomists, think that this judgment, and especially the killing of children, answers any moral objections against God decreeing wickedness and perversion. Remember, the theological defense of God’s righteousness, since the hellenization of Christianity, has been deemed trivial, eclipsed long ago by the all-consuming defense of changelessness. The argument goes like this: if you admit that God killed babies in the Flood, then you should have no problem with Him ordaining children being raped, etc. However, the judgment of the Flood was neither wicked nor perverse, and in no way can be compared to adultery, murder, pride, and child molestation. For even considering the children, God exercised His lawful right as Creator, depriving their wicked parents of the chance to destroy their own children and mercifully taking these little ones into His own righteous hands.

A common Hebrew word, nacham, used 108 times in Scripture, is translated repent about forty times, and according to the authoritative Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, “The majority [26] of these instances refer to God’s repentance, not man’s.” A few instances indicate circumstances in which God will not repent (as under pressure from a king), and most show that He can and does repent (responding to obedience or sinfulness). This word used of man shows that it has the common meaning of repent (Ex. 13:17; Job 42:6; Jer. 8:6; 31:19). In the alphabetical listing of Bible words, the name Noah is only one entry away from the similar word nacham, and is a close derivation being the verb repent turned into a name (Gen. 5:29). This linguistic derivation plus the First-Use hermeneutic, that students should especially consider the Bible’s first use of a word or concept, here links the core meaning of biblical repentance with that of Noah’s Flood! Far from being a special case or unusual, for the remaining 1,180 chapters of the Bible after the Flood, our God Himself has fundamentally demonstrated the very definition of full repentance, to feel remorse, to change one’s mind, and to reverse direction! The only difference regarding divine and human repentance is that God does not repent like a man does, that is, from doing evil or under ungodly pressure. Thus God here repented in that He was “grieved,” and changed His mindset that allowed these men to fill the earth, and then He reversed course and depopulated the world! He did all this not by His original plan, or His eternal decree, but specifically because of man’s sin. As Noah’s story punctuates Openness in the first third of human history, showing a God who can repent, Abraham’s story does the same in the second third, by showing an intimate God blessed when He sees His friend Abraham is willing to sacrifice everything for the LORD!

• God planned to work through Abraham’s descendants for 2,000 years till the fullness of time at the Cross.
• God therefore asked Abraham to do just what He Himself planned to do: to offer His own Son on Mount Moriah!
• God knew of His friend’s deep faith, but tested whether Abraham loved his own son Isaac more than God.
• Not until the knife was raised did God say, “now I know” that you would not withhold your own son from Me.
• Abraham then and only then also learned that in righteousness he would obey the call for ultimate sacrifice.
• So a ram with its head caught in the thorns died instead, the crowned Christ dying willingly as the antitype.
• And for the next 2,000 years, when His wrath burned hot against wicked Israel, God remembered Abraham!
• The sacred record of history unfolded not with divine perfection, but evil, upon evil, upon evil marks Israel’s history.
• Of Isaac’s twins, God called Jacob, not to salvation but as the “nation” through whom the Seed would come.
• Reuben was the first to lose Israel’s tribal contest in which they unknowingly vied for the Messianic blessing.
• God disqualified Jacob’s firstborn after Reuben violated his own father’s bed. Gen. 49:3-4; 1 Chr. 5:1
• Through Jacob God gave the birthright to the tribe of Joseph who also lost it. Gen. 48; 1 Chr. 5:1-2; Ps. 78:67-68
• Next, Pharaoh “hardened his heart,” and as God showed Himself stronger, pride further hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
• God said that He will “test them [Israel], whether they will walk in My law or not.” Ex. 16:4
• God gave Israel the Mosaic Law (based on Circumcision), symbolized not by Isaac but by Ishmael of the flesh! Gal. 4:22-24
• After first giving a vegetarian diet, then adding every animal, now God limits Israel’s diet to “clean animals.”
• God, provoked by Israel, threatened to destroy all the tribes and raise up a new nation out of Levi. Ex. 32:10
• Like Abraham, Moses believed He could change God’s mind, and indeed His prayers stayed God’s hand. Ex. 32:11-13; etc.
• “For I was afraid [that] the LORD was angry with you, to destroy you. But the Lord listened to me.” Deut. 9:19
• “So the LORD relented [repented] from the harm which He said He would do to His people.” Ex. 32:14
• God chose the sons of Aaron to “serve Him forever” (Deut. 18:5) and then killed two of them! Ex. 28:1; Num. 26:61
• Most of the priests whom God chose to “serve Him forever” went to hell. Neh. 9:34; Lev. 10; 1 Sam. 2; etc.
• God “will without fail” cast out the Canaanites, but then left them as a punishment. Josh. 3:10; Deut. 12:29; Jud. 2:3
• The book of Judges documents the wickedness of the Twelve Tribes, showing Judah to be the least undesirable.
• Yet God offered Benjamin the Messianic throne, the last-born tribe replacing the firstborn Reuben, by making Saul king.
• God’s chosen king, “Saul, whom the LORD chose” (2 Sam. 21:6) “established his sovereignty,” but God “repented” of offering him Israel’s perpetual dynasty.
• Samuel said to Saul, “You have not kept the commandment of the LORD” thus “the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue…” 1 Sam. 13:13-14
• Although He offered Saul Israel’s perpetual dynasty, God later repented and had His own chosen king killed.
• Finally, “Judah prevailed over his brothers,” the least undesirable tribe, therefore “from him came a ruler” 1 Chr. 5:1; Jud. 1; etc.
• David did not fulfill an eternal decree by adultery and murder, but thereby gave “great occasion to the enemies of the LORD.”
• God will not bless rebellion, thus by their sin His people “limited the Holy One of Israel.” Ps. 78:41
• Israel’s sin made God “furious” (Ps. 78:59), for He is not “impassible,” but we have emotion because He has passion!
• God sent most His Chosen People to hell. (See Gen. 12 through to Romans 11, including Isa. 1:4; Rom 9!)
• For, the elect, who are beloved for Abraham’s sake, were enemies even of the Gospel. Rom. 11:28
• God prophesied that Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days, but in mercy “God repented” and “did not do it.”
• God told Nebuchadnezzar He would give him the spoils of Tyre, yet then reported that it never happened. Ezek. 26:12; 29:18
• Though rejected later by Calvin, God declares, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” -LORD GOD, Ezek. 33:11
• After pouring His love into Israel, God “expected it to bring forth” repentance but it brought “forth wild grapes [unbelief]” (Isa. 5:4)! God’s knowledge is perfect, and when producing an expectation, His love influences that knowledge, so that He can hope even against a mountain of foreboding knowledge. For love “hopes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7) WHICH EXHAUSTIVE FOREKNOWLEDGE CANNOT DO!!
• God said of southern Israel that Judah will “‘return to Me [future tense],’ but she did not,” Jer. 3:7, which contradicts the Settled View but with an Open future, hope and love can influence His expectation!
• God told Hezekiah he would die, which would have been a lie by the Settled View, and then He strengthened the king to live longer, which turned out disastrously for Jerusalem.
• God said the Israelites “provoke Me to anger,” not by His decree but “according to their own thoughts.”
• Later, Nahum got a city named after him, Capernaum, when by his prophecy God finally did destroy Nineveh. (If Israel loved mercy, they would have named the place, Kafer-Jonah.)
• God indicated that people in a deep relationship with Him sometimes influenced His mind and thus His future actions, saying, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would [still] not be favorable toward this people!” –GOD, Jer. 15:1
• God hates all paganism (not only Plato’s) thus He warned Israel not to do as the Canaanites who burn their babies to Molech (Deut. 12:29-31), “which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind.” Jer. 19:5
• Yet Israel did burn their babies to Molech, manifestly NOT by God’s eternal decree, but by following paganism. Ezek. 32:35
• God as the Potter threatened Israel, as the clay, that if they disobeyed He would not deliver their promised kingdom, but rather mold them “into another vessel” (not for honor but now for dishonor, Rom. 9:21) repenting from that which He originally “thought” and “said” He would do! Jer. 18:1-10

Thus ends the second third of human history.

The Plot of the Bible portrays an unscripted future. Either that or the playwright prefers evil more than goodness! The LORD loves righteousness, yet billions of people hate God and use each other, and the vast majority of historical events are wicked. If we take God as the author of biblical history (let alone all human history), we see that He is obsessed with confusion, divorce, envy, murder, covetousness, homosexuality, blasphemy, backbiting, selfishness, abortion, drunkenness, disunity, kidnapping, racism, perjury, teen pregnancy, idolatry, thievery, hatred, division, cursing, adultery, wickedness, heresy, betrayal, pride, and lewdness, far beyond any interest in things pure and holy. The pagan Greek notions of immutability and fate have led Augustinian theologians to recast the Creator into a voyeur, ordaining bestiality for His pleasure. Whereas by the God’s Word, the idea of a scripted future is foreign to the story of Scripture!

The Settled View virtually ignores one of two main ways that the Bible reveals God. Scripture reveals Him through its teachings (like He is a vengeful God), and through accounts of centuries of intervention in history (like sending the Flood). This second method of God’s self-revelation is like a computer’s error correction system. When a computer adds numbers we typically trust the results even though errors commonly occur to our data in RAM, in storage, and in transmission over the Internet, but still we trust the results because computers check for errors, and daily correct billions of such problems without us humans even aware of the process. God put a wildly sophisticated error-correction scheme in our DNA, and He put another such system in the Bible. Hinduism teaches about God from a purely intellectual perspective, even though human beings easily disagree on everything, let alone pure ideas. A “matter shall be established” by the testimony of “two or three witnesses,” so in addition to the Creation and the Incarnation, God reveals truth in Scripture through pure ideas (the “dead shall live,” Isa. 26:15), and through His intervention in history (raising a man during his burial, 2 Kings 13:21). Thus, the Sadducees who rejected the resurrection could do so more easily if they ignore, reject, or interpret away the historical accounts of Scripture.

To arrive at the Settled View, that the future is locked, and neither God nor man is able to change anything that is unalterably eternally foreknown, Augustine had to discount virtually the entire historical record of Scripture, preferring instead to force all verses to submit to stagnant platonic immutability. And with this, Christianity took a giant step toward pagan occultism, as evidenced by the superstitious obsession with trying to interpret God’s meaning in everything that happens: Why did God make it rain on my wedding rehearsal? Why did the chicken entrails fall that way? Why did the tire go flat on my way to this job interview? Why do did the tea leaves make that pattern? Why did God give me this toothache?

So Sam, along with millions of Settled Viewers, you discount the historical error correction regarding the LORD repenting. God established Saul as king, and offered him Israel’s perpetual dynasty, and provoked by Saul’s disobedience God repented (1 Sam. 15:11) that He had ever made Saul king in the first place. Then when Saul begs for God to retract his punishment (2 Sam. 15:22-28), Samuel says that God “is not a man that He should repent” (1 Sam. 15:29, that is, God doesn’t repent like a man, foolishly, or under pressure from the king, etc). And then God again emphatically declares “that the LORD repented that He had made Saul king” (1 Sam. 15:35). Yet Calvin ignores God’s error correction by succumbing to Augustine’s platonic immutability! And he so totally ignores the context, that CALVIN REFERS TO THE HISTORICAL EVENTS AS A FIGURE OF SPEECH (!!!!!!!!!!), and then he takes God’s refusal to recant His repentance as supposedly revealing the actual truth that He can’t repent!

Remember, Calvin wrote:
When it is said that God repented of having made Saul king, the term change is used figuratively. [Woe!] Shortly after, it is added, "The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent," (1 Sam. 15:29.) In these words, his immutability is plainly asserted without figure. [The second Woe!!] -Calvin’s Institutes
So Sam, what is the hermeneutic that Calvin used there? The First Use principle? The Double Reference principle? Or the Commitment to Augustinian Tradition principle? Please notice that whichever hermeneutic he consciously or subconsciously used, the net effect was simply to blow off God’s revelation of Himself through historical intervention. For these three passages form a repent sandwich. Yet the Settlers ignore the undeniable historical reality that God had chosen Saul and offered him a dynasty, revoked that offer, refused to recant on His new course of action, and finally declared again that He repented from making Saul king, dethroning him eternally. And the Bible contains so very many stories like this, which make it such a thick book, in proportion to our skulls. Yet the Settled View almost entirely ignores God’s historical error-correcting mechanism. But for all the true reversals and changes God exhibited in the Old Testament, the most harm results when Calvinist and Arminian Settled Viewers overlook God changing His course in the New Testament!

• God the Son became flesh, showing infinite change through humility, and now forever remains a Man! John 1:14
• The Incarnation is the third greatest conceivable change, that God the Son would eternally take on human form! 1 Tim. 2:5
• The Twelve were not looking for Jesus, so “You did not choose Me but I chose you” to be disciples. John 6:70; 15:16
• Jesus was sent to Israel only. Mat. 15:24; 10:5-6; 19:28; Luke 7:3-5; Acts 3:25-26; 10:36; Isa. 59:20; etc.
• “The… lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized.” Luke 7:30
• “By chance [lit., coincidence] a certain priest” came down the road to Jericho and saw the man left for dead. -Jesus, Luke 10:31
• To the superstitious question, “Who did sin, this one or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Jesus answered “Neither!” Put a period right there. Then realize that the Lord next began a new sentence: “But that the works of God may be manifested in him, it behooves me to do the works of Him who sent Me…” God is not like the dysfunctional nut who lets the air out of your tires, to gain your friendship later by offering to pump them up.
• Jesus predicted the betrayal of Judas and the denials of Peter, but God always prefers obedience to fulfilled prophecy (see Nineveh, and principles like the Sabbath being made for man and not vice versa, Mark 2:27, and consider what Saul ignored, that “to obey is better than sacrifice” 1 Sam. 15:22). So God would have been glorified far more if either would have trusted Him.
• Jesus repeatedly promised to return soon (giving the apostles the hope they displayed in Acts of His imminent return).
• “There are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
• “I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
• “This saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say… he would not die, but, ‘If I will that he remain till I come…’”
• “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things [Second Coming prophecies] take place.”
• “For three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree [figuratively, Israel] and find none. Cut it down… But he answered and said, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’”
• God would soon fertilize Israel by pouring out the Holy Spirit (but no national fruit of the spirit would result).
• Just days before His death, Jesus prepared His disciples to suffer the great tribulation. Mat. 24; etc.; John 16:2-5
• 490 years were “determined for [Israel]… until… Messiah shall be cut off” followed by a 7-year tribulation. Dan. 9:24-27; Mat. 24:3, 15, 34
• The Father poured wrath on “His Son,” then “Christ died” (Rom. 5:8), and then He was justified (MAJOR changes)!
• Jesus suffered the cross “once” in history and will not be hanging there forever in an Augustinian/Platonic “eternal now.” Heb. 9:27-28
• The Crucifixion is the second greatest conceivable change, that God the Son would become sin and a curse for us.
• Thus “God our Savior… desires that all might be saved” in part because of the ultimate price He paid! 1 Tim. 2:3-4
• Calvinist “limited atonement,” that Jesus died only for the elect, would actually limit God, for it ignores both that The Son IS the atonement, and that Peter described the wicked as those who deny “the Lord who bought them.” 2 Pet. 2:1; Acts 20:28
• God did not create time, but as a non-spatial irreversible continuum, time is an attribute of God’s Attributes, including Him being relational, and so God can not go back in time to prevent Adam from sinning (H.G. Wells notwithstanding), and neither can He go forward into the non-existent future to “see” who will eventually get saved, so that He could then limit His death for the “elect” only.
• Whereas a stone idol which cannot become flesh, the Living God changed infinitely to save us, for “He became their Savior.” Isa. 63:8
• Because Jesus had told them to expect the Great Tribulation and His soon return, in preparation, the Twelve Apostles administered a Last-Days economy of selling all private property.
• “All who believed… sold their possessions. Acts 2
• “All who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and laid [the proceeds] at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each.” Acts 4:34-35
• Limiting God’s ability to give Israel the blessing of their Earthly Kingdom, the nation rejected the preaching of the risen Christ. Acts 2-5
• God had warned Israel saying: "the instant I speak concerning” building your kingdom, if you do evil, “then I will repent” and not give you your kingdom! Jer. 18:9-10
• Jesus had spent three years of earthly ministry looking for faithfulness in Israel, and found almost none. Luke 7:9
• Israel now has “become the betrayers… who have received the law… and have not kept it.” Acts 7:52-53
• Israel’s leaders plotted persecution, they killed their first Messianic believer, and then extended their persecution Acts 6-8
• Peter please with the men of Israel that, even though Jesus has ascended into heaven, if they will repent, God will send the Lord back to establish Israel’s kingdom!
• “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration…” Acts 3:19-21
• “Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.” Acts 3:24
• The Apostles were themselves expecting to see Jesus return, by the promise of angels (Acts 1:11), and by the Lord’s word.
• However, Israel ignored God’s warning, thinking it an idle threat (Jer. 18:18), but because they rejected Christ, God therefore cut off Israel, and in this the nation cannot resist His will.
• God has mercy on whom He wills, and since He wills to give mercy only to those who trust Christ, He therefore cut off Israel, molding her into a vessel for dishonor rather than the vessel for honor He had originally hoped to form. Rom. 9
• For unbelief, God “cut off” Israel’s Covenant of Circumcision, and turned “to the Gentiles” Rom. 11:20-25
• They of “the election” [Israel], beloved for Abraham, had become “enemies” of the “gospel.” Rom. 11:28
• [Israel’s] “being casting away is the reconciling of the world [i.e., the Gentiles, through the Body of Christ, which is not Israel]. Rom. 11:15
• Therefore “wrath has come upon them [Israel, v. 14] to the uttermost” having been cut off. 1 Thes. 2:16
• God tells the Twelve Apostles, and the Jews generally, that He has gone to the Gentiles. Acts 10:28; 11:18; 13-14
• God continues teaching truth by changing symbolic rules, including reversing for the Body His demand for circumcision.
• From a vegetarian diet, to every animal, to only clean animals, and now God allows the Body to eat every animal again.
• The changes in the house rules, from the House of Israel, to the Household of Faith (the Body) created friction between the Apostles.
• “To his face,” Paul called Peter a “hypocrite,” because Simon was being untruthful about “the Gospel.” Gal. 2:11-14; etc.
• The Twelve sanctioned “the Gospel of the Uncircumcised.” Gal. 2:7 (KJV!, Greek is genitive, not dative); Acts 15:23-29; etc.
• God changed the rules for the Body as in reversing the law against eating meat sacrificed to idols. 1 Cor. 8
• After working with the Body, God will return again to Israel (Rom. 11:23-31, which prevents Martin Luther-style rabid anti-semitism).
• Jesus is NOW in heaven “waiting till His enemies are made [figuratively] His footstool.” Heb. 10:13
• The Book of Revelation indicates a return to the Mosaic dietary law during Israel’s future great tribulation. Rev. 2:20; 7:4-8; Jer. 30:7
• Revelation speaks of time in heaven, with sequential seals, trumpets and bowls (not to mention the thunders).
• In heaven believers experience time: in temporary silence, anticipation, delay, waiting, fruit coming ripe, etc.
• And the Book of Revelation ends with the future Open and God inviting, “Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely!”

Thus ends the final third of human history as told in Scripture.

The apostles administered a communistic economy, relieving their followers of lands and homes, not because they were charlatans, but to ready themselves for the violence of the Great Tribulation and because Jesus promised to restore such private property when He returns to establish Israel’s kingdom, and to set the Twelve Apostles on twelve thrones to rule over the twelve tribes of Israel (Mat. 19:28-29). Calvinists typically reject the literal nature of numerous apparently literal passages, as does covenant theology. Covenant theologians, in defense of immutability, deny or deemphasize that God significantly changed the rules and even reversed some of His important commands, and they especially oppose distinguishing between Israel and the Body of Christ by “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (1 Tim. 2:15). Thus Sam, since you are a Calvinist, and a covenant theologian, I know that you spiritualize much of the outline of biblical history in the above bullets, in order to defend Augustinian immutability, thus allowing your philosophy to constrain your understanding of sacred history, rather than allowing the Bible’s history to correct theological errors.

Of the numerous literal passages that Calvinists take figuratively, they spiritualize God’s promise of an Earthly Kingdom to Israel (Gen. 15:18; Jer. 18:6 10; 23:5-8; Joel 3:17; Mat. 6:10; 10:23; 16:28; 25:31 34; Mark 10:29-30; Acts 1:6-7, 11; Rev. 21:1-2, 14; etc.), and increasingly, they spiritualize away virtually the entire book of Revelation. But Daniel’s prophecy correctly dated Christ’s crucifixion, to be followed by seven years of Tribulation (Dan 9:24-27; Mat 24:15; Rev. 11:2-3; etc.). Jesus repeatedly promised to return soon; the Holy Spirit endorsed the communal living of the Messianic Jews in Acts during the year after the Resurrection; and the Twelve Apostles’ expected to suffer through the Tribulation. And while Jesus was temporarily in heaven, if the men of Israel would repent, God would send Jesus back, and establish their kingdom! This was prophesied, not by Enoch, Abraham, or Moses, but beginning with Samuel (the prophet of Israel’s earthly kingdom, who anointed their first king, and who anointed their great king David, and whose book revealed God’s prophesy of David’s perpetual throne, 2 Sam. 7:16)! The false General Theory of Immutability leads Calvinists and covenant theologians to deny these overarching historical developments in the story of the Bible. They feel compelled to deny the literal implications of so much of the earthly and historical teachings of Scripture because otherwise, The Plot of the Bible overwhelms their theology and reveals God interacting with men bringing about an Open future.

Finally, let me give a word to my Arminian friends who reject the concept of total predestination, but still oppose Openness, believing instead that not even God can change the future because it has always been eternally settled in His mind. Have you been disappointed thinking that I have spent too much time trying to refute predestination, because this is not a debate about Calvinism, but exhaustive foreknowledge!” It is good that I am debating Dr. Lamerson, an Augustinian five-point Calvinist who sees no problem in the historical influence of Plato on Christian theology, because that is the very source of this theological debate! Remember that Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation broke with Rome and not Greece! So too the Herculean effort (pardon the pun) of Arminius to restore true relationship with God and to defend His righteousness did not sufficiently identify the root cause of the errors he saw. He rightly sought to break with the pagan Greek belief in a future that had been pre-scripted. However, he should have realized that the Greek’s Three Fates (i.e., Christian predestination), though daughters of Zeus, still controlled even Him as the father of the gods! And by retaining simple foreknowledge and an exhaustively settled future, Arminians unwittingly succumb to the ubiquitous influence of Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin, promoting an immutable God who is unable even to change the future. Thus, while throughout I’ve tried to show the connection to the Arminian Settled View, the real enemy is Greek fatalism imported into Christianity.

Questions and Answers

Regarding whether I answered SLQ13 & SLQ14, I did, directly, in round four. In answering all your fifth-round questions, at first I didn’t realize that you had copied them from your fourth round, and that confusion led to me copying and leaving in my post some of your previous questions. Also, FYI, soon I’ll have to enter a shorter post to stay within the 6,000-word post average for the Battle. And to allay any concern, I had never previously written a paper on Greek philosophy, but wrote every word of that post in round five, just as I wrote this post on the Open View in round six, as I’ve done with virtually the entire debate (I drew the heaviest from existing notes in round one on the Attributes, but the great majority of that post was also newly written).

Sam, your claim here illustrates the difficulty I am having getting you to acknowledge even my basic argument. You wrote:
Rev. Enyart has argued that God was orchestrating all of these circumstances so as to make certain that Peter would deny him (or more correctly that a rooster would crow, since he really avoids the question of Peter). -6A, emphasis added​
Actually, I utterly disagree that God wanted Peter to deny Christ AT ALL, let alone “make certain” of it. We are not communicating well. The hermeneutic I spent my first 6,000 words developing, and my entire treatment of Judas, both directly indicate my position on Peter also. As for your rooster clarification here, you said that I really argued primarily about the rooster, and avoided the question of Peter. This is a perfect example showing that my arguments are being mostly ignored. The section On How to Make a Rooster Crow is 26 paragraphs and about 2,400 words, and most of that was about Peter, his accusers, and what God hoped would come of it. The first ten paragraphs consisting of about 1,000 words were about the rooster, leaving the majority of the section, 16 paragraphs of about 1,400 words to discuss directly the question of Peter, which you say, “he really avoids.”

Thus, Sam, when you ask your Peter questions 1-5 (and Judas 1-4, and Prayer 1-2), my frustration is that I have answered these questions, and you do not “clash” over my answers, but mostly ignore them. Even still, I will answer yet again all these questions. In the first round, I promised that I would answer all your questions by round two, and I did. Now, I again ask for one round’s worth of patience, and I promise to answer all your sixth and seventh round questions in my next post.

BEQ31: As per BEQ1/7/9/17/27, Sam, I accept that you say you believe that God can have relationships, but I’m asking you something different: Is God able to change such that He can have true relationship:
A: within the Trinity?

And as part two of the same question,
B: with His creatures?

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

In Christ,
Bob Enyart
KGOV.com
 
Last edited:

Nathon Detroit

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DING - DING -DING

That's it for round number six.

Round seven has begun and Dr. Lamerson is now on the clock and has until August 31st 8:29AM (MDT) to make his 7th post.

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

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

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

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Samuel Lamerson

New member
Battle Royale
Round VII​


First let me tell you that I saw a message or a shout that made me laugh out loud. Someone (can’t remember who right now) said “I love it when I see things out of the corner of my eye. For a minute I thought I saw that Bob Enyart was debating Sam Kennison.” That is FUNNY. DON’T MAKE ME SCREAM IT AGAIN! For those of you unfamiliar with Kennison, please excuse me, but that was funny.

On another note, I thought that I might let you know what other things I am working on at this point in my life. I am writing a paper that I will read at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society’s annual meeting. The paper will deal with demon possession and exorcism in the Gospels and Acts compared and contrasted to today. I am looking specifically at M. Scott Peck’s book “Glimpses of the Devil.” This Sunday I will finish up a five week series of messages on the parables with a message on Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and goats. Classes have started here at Knox and students are on their way to learning to read the Greek New Testament. This is one of my favorite tasks in life. To teach students to read the text in the language in which it was written and hopefully kindle a fire of love both for the Word, and for the God who wrote it.

Rev. Enyart explains that he will have to make his last few posts a little shorter in order to fit into the “average of 6,000 words.” Bob, does this mean that I have the right to make my last few posts longer in order to use up my allotted word numbers?

Now on to the debate.


OBSERVATIONS

1. To those who said that my hermeneutic of “authorial intention” was nothing more than stating the obvious, I would ask that you become more familiar with current hermeneutical battles before making such statements. There are many today who would argue that attempting to find the author’s intent is foolishness (see, for example Stanly Fish’s now classic “Is There A Text In This Class?”. This is the very battle that Kevin Vanhoozer’s work “Is There A Meaning In This Text?” takes up.

2. To those who seemed to think that Christ at times spoke out of his humanity and at other times spoke out of his divinity was some new idea that I had just pulled out of my hat, please understand that this is the position taken by theologians Warfield, Berkhoff, Erickson, Reymond, and Grudam. This position has a long and noble heritage (though it is not the only answer to the “Son does not know” passage, there are others that preserve Jesus’ omnipotence in other ways) and to react to it as if it is mere folly is to fail to understand an important Scriptural position.


BOB’S RESPONSE IN ROUND VI

1. To say that I am disappointed by the lack of response in Rev. Enyart's post simply does not get to the issue. It seems that Bob and I are speaking past one another rather than to each other. I will take some of the blame for this, but it seems clear to me that anyone who read my post VI could clearly see that I had extended and sharpened each of my arguments, and yet Bob does not respond to them.

2. Rev. Enyart, with all due respect, simply saying that you have answered my arguments does not do the trick. You argue that God could have had another rooster crow if the first one had been eaten. I grant that. The problem is this: Jesus predicted the actions of Judas and Peter; these actions took place as he had predicted; either Jesus knew that these actions would take place or he did not. If he did not, then he would not have based his divinity upon them. I clearly proved in the last round that Jesus based his divinity upon his predictions. Your answer is that “God would have been happy if either Peter or Judas had repented.” But they did not repent. Jesus had predicted in advance that they would not repent. Please take these arguments seriously. I spent a great deal of time and effort extending and clarifying the arguments in my last post only to have them ignored. You have told us stories about what it might have been like if Judas had repented, but you have failed to respond to my analysis of Peter’s preaching in Acts which clearly says that these things “had to happen.”

3. Rev. Enyart misunderstands the linguist evidence again. Having taught Hebrew, I am familiar both with the language as well as with the source he cites. His argument that Noah’s name is only one entry away from a similar word, thus making it a close derivation is simply wrong. He quotes from the Wordbook of the Old Testament and calls it “authoritative.” Having studied under two of the three authors of the book, I looked up the context (funny that that word should come up again). The proper names that flow from this word are listed and Noah is not among them. Noah comes from the Hebrew word for rest. Not only does Rev. Enyart misspell transliteration of the Hebrew word, he misuses the article and directly contradicts the author’s intention. This is a direct quote from the article (V. II, p. 571) “When naham is used of God, however, the expression is anthropopathic and there is not ultimate tension. From man’s limited, earthly, finite perspective it only appears that God’s purposes have changed.” Please, we must all be more careful in the citing of works that are called “authoritative.”

4. Rev. Enyart’s post puts me in a difficult position. He promises to answer the arguments that I put forward “in the next post.” This again (at the risk of being called a whiner by the grandstands) leaves me to argue that the conclusions that I stated in my last post (that both Judas’ and Peter’s behavior was predicted in advance by Jesus and could not have occurred any other way) stand. Bob spends over 7,000 words in this last post and does not deal with one of the questions that I asked. I really do not understand how this can be called a debate.

5. As to the repentance of God, I will offer my analysis of what this word and figure of speech means. I will deal with several passages as space permits


Lexical Considerations

The repentance of God is primarily expressed in the OT through the Hebrew verb naham. For our purposes, the most important usages of the verb come in the niphal and hithpael stems, where an element of change is denoted by the verb.

Space limitations will prevent a thorough discussion of all 35 passages in which God is the subject of naham and of other passages that deal with the theme of divine repentance but do not use the word. The crucial question we will be considering throughout is whether God’s emotional or mental or directional change indicated by his naham demands a non-exhaustive view of his foreknowledge.

Hermeneutical Considerations

A far preferable hermeneutical approach, given the number of times that God is said not to repent or change his mind, is to take the whole of biblical revelation into account in trying to determine what is similar and what is different between divine and human repentance. This is what Rev. Enyart has tried to do, and so I feel justified in using the same technique. This will include the vast amount of Scripture that teaches or illustrates God’s foreknowledge of free human decisions (such as Judas and Peter, but there are many others). And it also includes the incredibly significant use made of such foreknowledge by Yahweh in Isaiah 40-48 and by Jesus in John 13:19. Yes, the repentance of God is a significant biblical metaphor, as Rev. Enyart and others have helpfully argued. But its frequency of usage is dwarfed by the 2,323 predictive prophecies in Scripture that concern free human decisions or events that have such decisions as a causal component. Thus we must be careful not to interpret the metaphor of divine repentance in such as way that it diminishes the far more frequent metaphor of divine foreknowledge. Both metaphors must be understood to be reality depicting, but the extent and intensity of the biblical portrayal of divine foreknowledge must in no way be diminished. The witness of all of Scripture lends considerable weight to understanding the relationship of divine knowledge to divine repentance as fundamentally different than that of its human counterpart.

So how should we understand the repentance of God if we affirm his foreknowledge of free human decisions? I would suggest that divine repentance denotes God’s awareness of a change in the human situation and his resulting change of emotions and/or actions in light of this changed situation. This change in the human situation could involve human sin (as in Gen 6:6; 1 Sam 15:11, 35; Jer 18:9-10) and/or human repentance (as in Jonah 3:9; Jer 18:7-8) and/or human intercession (as in Ex 32:14; Amos 7:1-6; 2 Kgs 20:1-6). And in his repentance, God changes his emotions and/or actions as is appropriate and fitting in light of these changed circumstances. But this does not necessarily imply that the changed human circumstances were unforeseen by God and that God has learned something new as a result of these free human decisions.

Clearly this is a different kind of repentance than what we experience as humans. We cannot conceive of ourselves responding with genuine grief and regret over sin that we infallibly foreknew would happen and responding with a genuine change of action in response to a situation we infallibly foreknew. Rev. Enyart might claim that I am not reading the texts in a “straightforward fashion.”

Serious problems come when we try to apply this “straightforward hermeneutic” to other passages of Scripture. Consider, for example, Gen 3:9-13, which records God’s actions after the fall of Adam and Eve. After their sin, Adam and Eve tried to hide from God among the trees of the garden. Then we read, “But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” (vs. 9). Following openness suggestions to “simply accept the plain meaning of Scripture,” this text seems to imply that God does not know the present location of Adam and Eve. And as the narrative of Genesis 3 proceeds, another problem emerges. In vs. 11, God asks Adam, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Does not a “straightforward” reading of this verse lead to the conclusion that in this case God was ignorant of what Adam had done in the past? And God’s similar question to Eve in vs. 13 (“What is this you have done?”) seems to imply a similar divine ignorance of the past as far as Eve’s actions were concerned. Thus reading Gen 3:9-13 in the same manner that open theists encourage us to read Gen 22:12 seems to result in a denial of God’s exhaustive knowledge of both the present and the past.

REV. ENYART’S QUESTIONS

EQ31: Is God able to change such that he can have true relationship:

A: within the Trinity?

B: with His creatures?

SLA-BEQ31: Again, I must say that I thought that I had already answered this. Depending upon what one means by the word change, yes. The word change is not self-defining. I have always believed that God can and does have a true relationship within the Trinity and with his creatures. This change however must be carefully defined. It does not mean that he ceases to give up any of his attributes or in any way ceases to be God.

BEQ32: (please forgive me for not cutting and pasting the entire question, we have been having trouble with our network since the storm and I don’t have an electronic version of post VI available). Can you indicate if this statement is true: When God intervenes in history, the actual intervention itself cannot be a figure of speech!

SLA-BEQ32: George B. Caird says, in his classic The Language and Imagery of the Bible that “all, or almost all, of the language used by the Bible to refer to God is metaphor.” No doubt this is true because of the infinite qualitative difference that exists between the Creator and his creation.

Thus through metaphorical language, something that is well-known becomes a window through which we can gain insight into something that is lesser known. But since no one thing is exactly identical to another thing, every metaphor expresses both similarities and differences between the two objects.

Note that this does not mean that the event did not occur. It only means that our methods for speaking of God’s intervention are imperfect because of the Creator/creature distinction.

Psalm 17 shows some examples of this. In verse 6 the author asks God to “incline his ear” which clearly means to hear his prayer. Are we to say that God has actual ears? In verse 7 we are reminded that God’s love is shown to those who take refuge “at Thy right hand.” Are we to think that God, when he protects us, actually uses his hands? In verse 8 David asks that God would “hide me in the shadow of Thy wings . . .” Does God have both hands and wings?

Lest Rev. Enyart argue that this is poetry and not a genuine account of God’s intervention, notice that this is a prayer for specific protection from oppressors.

Conclusion

Let me say again, that I do not doubt that Rev. Enyart believes that he is being Scriptural and that he is winning the debate. I, on the other hand do not agree with either of these two conclusions. I will certainly do all that I can to promote this debate, although I am not sure that it is a good model due to the lack of clash on important issues. As I have said before, at this point in the debate we should be dealing with very specific issues and narrowing the field of argument rather than widening it.

I will not ask more questions ( with the exception of the one that I ask at the start of the post, i.e., can I use the same "averaging" technique as you in my last three posts?) but will wait patently until Rev. Enyart decides to answer the ones that I put forward in my last post. I would only ask that he seriously consider the evidence that I put forth from the Greek text as well as the LXX and deal specifically with the questions.


God’s blessings to all who are reading this. May he make his truth plain and clear. May we all seek not to master the Word, but to be mastered by it.

Sam Lamerson
 

Bob Enyart

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Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 7B

Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 7B

Sam, now that you’ve admitted that God is able to change in relationship, in round eight we can focus on the implications of that on the traditional doctrines of immutability and foreknowledge, since this is the heart of the Openness debate! Let’s look at the Incarnation and Crucifixion, staying in the heart of your area of expertise: the Gospels.

This post reviews your arguments and accusations, and answers anew all the questions at length that you’ve basically resubmitted (Prayer 1-2, Peter 1-5, Judas 1-5). But first:

Appealing to Non-Scriptural Authority

I will establish, first by indirect and then by direct evidence, that Sam is the one who has been appealing to non-scriptural authority. Indirectly, I judge that Sam’s blatant contradictory reasoning is explained by his commitment to humanist philosophy. Then objectively, by direct evidence, I will prove that even in this short debate, and under the blind eye of the Settlers in the Grandstands, that Sam has heavily appealed to non-scriptural authority.

In round two I defined will. And Sam replied:
Here Bob puts his finger on the real issue of this debate. Does ‘will’ include the ability to do otherwise? This is a hinge upon which much of this discussion swings.​
Now, I submit the following quote as anecdotal evidence of the negative effects that commitment to humanist philosophy can have on human reason. A few rounds back Sam wrote:
The cheating man does what he wanted to do, simply because he could not have done otherwise does not mean that he did not freely choose to cheat on his wife… -Sam, Post 3A, emphasis added​
Pagan Greek philosophy makes one mad! (And if not Sam, then me!) This Calvinist claim, while logically and linguistically contradictory, agrees with the Westminster Confession. And in its defense, Sam wrote in 5A that the Westminster Confession “is held to by thousands and by major denominations, as well as by some of the finest theological minds.” Yes, and if God did not ordain, and does not derive pleasure and glory from a homosexual sodomizing a five year old boy, then they are all wrong, and egregiously so.

The direct evidence identifies Sam’s use of a tactic common to the Settled View, of projecting your own biblical weakness onto your opponents. Sam, you have falsely implied that I am the one who uses extra-biblical sources for my position, by projecting onto me your own routine practice! You contrast my argument on “Greek Philosophy,” and your declaration “up front that I will be using only one text to argue my case.” By the typical Settled View gambit, Calvinists divert attention from their preoccupation with extra-biblical authorities by accusing Open Viewers of not sticking with Scripture! After carefully scanning the entire debate so far, I submit that the Open View side has only appealed to Scripture, while the Exhaustive Foreknowledge side has heavily leaned on extra-biblical sources and authority. Note this, the Open View justifiably appeals to outside sources to expose the Settled View, whereas the Settled View improperly appeals to external sources to defend exhaustive foreknowledge. Here is my objective evidence of your heavy appeal to extra-biblical sources:

You have appealed to many extra-scriptural, outside sources and authorities in defense of your Settled View position! You appealed to:
1. The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas
2. All Second-Temple Literature (taken as a whole)
3. Davies and Allison (who declare the purpose of prayer)
4. Chrysostom (Homily on Matthew)
5. Reymond (who I raised in refutation, and you appealed to)
6. Erickson (God the Father Almighty, on the issue of change)
7. “Thousands [of Christians]”
8. “Major denominations”
9. “Some of the finest theological minds”
10. The beliefs of an average “first-century Jewish person” (assuming validity)
11. Bruce Ware (on what would be “strictly speaking impossible for human beings”)
12. Four Greek Experts, “men whose work cannot be questioned” (Why? Were they inspired?)
13. Morris (interpretation of John 13:19)
14. Theologians Warfield, Berkhoff, Erickson, and Grudman (“noble heritage”)
15. George B. Caird (virtually all bible language about God is metaphoric)
16. And finally, you boldly appealed to the Westminster Confession (and “the finest theological minds” who agree with it)!

Sam, “simply saying” that you and the Settled View only appeal to Scripture “does not do the trick”. Settled Viewers appeal to extra-biblical authorities so habitually, they are not even aware of it! (Tolle Lege anyone?). Sam, you’ve had a hard time restraining yourself from outside appeals even in a carefully observed debate while claiming to do otherwise! You quote Caird that “all, or almost all, of the language used by the Bible to refer to God is metaphor.” Sam, what an example of blind trust in extra-biblical authorities! Trusting Caird as an extra-biblical authority explains but does not excuse you from overlooking that the overwhelming preponderance of biblical references to God are not metaphors! I briefly scanned the Bible, including a list of “God is” passages, and here are a few of the literal descriptions of God that Caird missed, that God is:
Living, Eternal, Creator, Mighty, Witness,
Good, Exalted, Great, Loving, Jehovah,
Gracious, Spirit, King, Righteous, True,
Powerful, Wise, Blameless, Lord, Known, Just,
Awesome, Merciful, Judge, Holy, and Savior!​
But Sam you say we should believe that the majority of what the Bible says about God is otherwise, that it is metaphorical, because Caird said so! And this is why the Settled View survives, because its adherents demand as prerogative to take anything the Bible says about God as metaphor, including historical intervention (!!!!!), since after all, really, “all” or virtually everything said about God “is metaphor!” This devastating falsehood you so eagerly promote allows maximum interpretive flexibility to follow the Greeks and Augustine straight to exhaustive foreknowledge. This example shows that the Open View flows from a far more literal, and properly literal, biblical understanding of God than does the Settled View! Sam, have you ever corrected Caird on this blunder?

I have exposed that the OMNIs and IMs are “propped up with [‘a handful of’] weak proof-texts.” I asked you to demonstrate with Scripture the appeal to extra-biblical authority when you claimed that “Dr. Reymond cites no less than 24 passages of Scripture” for immutability, indicating that God is “unchangeable in his being.” Having debated Settled Viewers for 20 years, I knew this would expose your unmerited trust in extra-biblical authority. So, here’s one of the immutability proof-texts lurking within your outside authority, which you listed by reference only:
And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly. -Job 1:4-5​
So, that’s an immutability proof-text huh? And Settled Viewers don’t prop with a handful of weak proof-texts their Latin and Greek philosophical OMNIs and IMs? That was the 23rd passage cited. Others are worse (like Jonah 3:3-5, 10)! Thank you Sam and Dr. Reymond for strengthening my claim that the Settled View survives only on texts twisted to support Augustinian/Greek tradition.

Now, you rightly anticipated objections since these verses do not indicate immutability in His being, but speak of God’s love and commitment to righteousness. So you used the homiletical approach, “when your point is weak, pound pulpit,” asserting the extra-biblical, “trust us” approach. And as Settlers will do, you think that by chaining together non-biblical sources, you multiply their authority! (Actually, by the flesh, this tends to have an inverse relationship to truth, the more extra-biblical authorities chained together, the more likely you err.) For example, you as a professor quoted an expert theologian, who gives careful analysis, which follows the Westminster Confession:
Dr. Reymond argues this very strongly… Reymond does not simply cite the passage, he goes into some careful analysis of it. …outside of the discussion which Dr. Reymond engages these passages might not be as easily understood in terms of the “unchanging being” of God’s nature. It should also be noted that Reymond… (is following here the Westminster Confession).​
Move over Augie. There’s a new true Confessions book coming out!

Now here is the list of all of the sources and authorities I have appealed to in support of Openness:

1. Scripture

I have only referenced non-biblical sources to expose your position and arguments!

(I’ve ignored references to lexicons and to illustrations such as your Landlady and my answers to your “what if” objections, etc., but even there I think this general observation would still hold.)

Openness actually does that which the Settled View claims but does not do! And in Battle Royale X, I have done what you have accused me of not doing: I have argued the Open View position only from Scripture. So Sam, when I ask you, “Are foreordination and foreknowledge the same thing?” and you answer, “I agree with the Westminster Confession here,” that’s not only unresponsive, it is appealing to extra-biblical authority.

The Silent Scream

Sam said that my accusations regarding the pagan Greek origin of the Settled View “scream out for evidence and argument.” Then after my teaser, he added, “It is not that I am unfamiliar with the work of those who make this claim… it is that I am unconvinced by them.” So, in the first half of BRX, I committed 5,362 words, mostly in Post 5B, toward providing the evidence that the Settled View is based on pagan philosophy which Commitment to Augustinian Tradition props up with out-of-context proof-texts. After I provided such evidence, by the truckload, Sam decided to completely ignore the evidence he had demanded, and simply avoided the argument. In 6A, Sam quoted my question:
BEQ30: Sam, do you agree that Christianity should make a conscious effort to identify pagan Greek influence on Augustine and other leading Christians, and if any is found, to re-evaluate related doctrines on strictly biblical grounds?​
And he not only gave an unresponsive answer, but blew off my entire argument with less than forty words:
Since I believe and have argued from the Bible, I certainly want to hold to nothing but what the Bible teaches. I believe all Christians should always hold Scripture in authority over any creed, confession, church father or pastor.​
Sam, I didn’t ask you if you believe in the Bible. I didn’t ask you if you want to hold to anything but Scripture. I asked you if Christianity should make an effort to identify pagan influence, and if finding any, deal with it, to give God the respect He is due.

Sam, you had already stated about the historical evidence and argument for philosophical contamination of Christianity: “that I am unconvinced by them.” Why Sam? There is much at stake here. The reader deserves to hear why you have no concern regarding the powerful evidence for this charge:

1. Pagan Greek culture concocted the notion of the Settled Future (which they called Fate or Providence).
2. Intentionally or not, Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus devised a philosophy compatible with their culture’s fatalism.
3. Greek philosophy settled on the divine attributes of utter immutability and timelessness.
4. Augustine put these pagan teachings into the heart of Christian doctrine.
5. Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin gloried in Augustine’s Greek doctrines.
6. The educational institutions and curriculum created by the Reformation was heavily influenced by neoplatonism.
7. Until this very day our seminaries, rather than expose all this, have complicity in the scandal by propping up the Latin and Greek philosophical OMNIs and IMs with a handful of twisted proof-texts, giving pagan philosophy precedence over the biblical attributes of God being Living, Personal, Relational, Good, and Loving.

After promising in 3A, “I will have a number of responses,” to this accusation of Greek infection, instead Sam you subtly contrast your commitment to Scriptures with mine, writing “I am a Christian who follows the word of God,” and in 5A, “I am not quoting Plato or Augustine but Jesus,” and thus you followed my devastating exposé with only this, “I believe and have argued from the Bible.” Now, after screaming for evidence, Sam, your silence is deafening.

Three Proof-Texts Deal

Sam asked me:
SLQ15 Would you be willing to pick out three passages or pericopes as I have done…?​
Sam, I am prepared to give you three proof texts for us to focus on for the last third of the debate, but I want to get something from you first. You see, I believe that the Settled View position is biblically indefensible, and to demonstrate that, I want the readers to see the inability of any hermeneutics, other than Commitment to Augustinian Tradition, to uphold your case. Sam, in your email of April 21, you complimented the person who would “argue hard and then love much.” I can do nothing better for you nor the readers than to glorify God by exposing the stone-cold pagan roots of exhaustive foreknowledge. So, I’m taking this painful step, to emphasize as best I can, the inability of the Settled View to prevail once the Greek origin of its true hermeneutic has been exposed. Pardon the pop psychology, but in a subconscious way, I think you know this, and throughout have instinctively avoided discussion of our underlying hermeneutics, preferring the comfort of batting proof texts back and forth while suppressing any discussion of the fundamental issues. So, to demonstrate that, I will offer you exactly what you’ve been asking for, to pit my three proof-texts against yours, but first, you must reveal to the readers the hermeneutics that help you decide which texts rightly interprets which. And so that the reader can know that I have actually selected them, the references to my three proof texts fit the following pattern of book name. ch:vv.
~~~~ #:##, ~~~. #:#, and ~~~. ##:# - ##.​
Remember, you are not debating someone who thinks the author’s intent is unknowable. That is the purpose of revelation. So, please give us your hermeneutics, your statement of principles that we can apply to determine the meaning of our texts, and which set of three, if either, should be used to interpret which. By the way, if you call, email, or post your agreement to reveal your specific hermeneutics, I will immediately post my three proof-texts in the BR-X Critique Thread. Thus we can make the most of three rounds (that’s potentially over 36,000 words) making sure the debate deepens instead of widens.

I will use JONAH and NOAH to decide which interpretations and proof-texts to select. We can test our opposing hermeneutics, and demonstrate to the readers which best explains both sides’ proof and problem texts. And Sam, I know you disagree with JONAH and NOAH. But the real purpose of debate ultimately is to test one another’s method of interpretation. I’ll demonstrate how my hermeneutics function, and if you will present yours, we will make progress.

If you can show me that JONAH does not establish the validity of NOAH (obviously, in a way that I can agree with), then I will concede Battle Royale X.

On the other hand, if JONAH does establish the validity of NOAH (which I believe it does), we can then apply the NOAH hermeneutic to your three passages (and to all the Settled View proof texts) to repair misinterpretations.
Jehovah’s
Obvious
Nativity
Attributes
Hermeneutic​
JONAH demonstrates that attributes like relationship and love take precedence over immutability, knowledge, and power, thereby establishing the truth of Openness by obliterating the only justification for the Settled View.

And by JONAH, we can therefore use NOAH, the:
New
Openness-
Attributes
Hermeneutic​
NOAH resolves conflicting interpretations by selecting those which give precedence to the biblical attributes of God as being living, personal, relational, good, and loving, and by rejecting explanations derived from commitment to the philosophical attributes of God such as omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, impassibility, and immutability.

Sam, my hermeneutics are explicit, testable, and applicable, and are in black and white, and available for anyone to analyze. In 6A you wrote:
“my hermeneutic is to find out what the author (both earthly and heavenly) intended to communicate by his writing.”​
Of course, that is not a hermeneutic, but it is the goal of a hermeneutic. The New Bible Dictionary defines hermeneutics as the “statement of the principles on which a text is to be understood.” Sam, you cannot establish that your hermeneutics are the right ones if you do not identify them. So if you will provide a hermeneutic or two, that is, specific “statements of principles (or rules or methods)” by which we can attempt to interpret our texts and understand the author’s intent, then we can apply both parties’ hermeneutics, to see if either will appear valid. We have both identified from the beginning that it is the proper hermeneutic that will determine whether Openness is right or wrong. I just scanned through a Hermeneutics textbook I used in Bible college in 1977, and I can’t identify any hermeneutic you can suggest that will benefit your side over mine. The only one that does (which is not listed in that textbook), which I believe is the hermeneutic you actually use, is Commitment to Augustinian Tradition.

Sam, please list your specific hermeneutics, and then I will identify my three Openness proof texts, ~~~~ #:##, ~~~. #:#, and ~~~. ##:#-##. Otherwise, as you correctly pointed out, we will simply be listing “our own verses as proof texts” and with bravado tossing them at each other.

Questions and Answers

Sam, your helpful question titles work great in combination with these numbered prefixes. The numbers help also when listing a range of questions. So far I’ve directly answered SLQ1 – SLQ26, and you have not yet answered BEQ11/12/13/14/18/19/20/21/23/25/28/30 and 32. I hope you will. This list of unanswered BEQs does not refer to answers I disagree with, but to your unresponsive replies and to completely ignored questions . Everything below I’ve directly answered already and now again. So Sam, if you want to further our progress, you will have to either agree with me on a point, or specifically challenge my answers and my rebuttals to your previous claims.

Prayer

SLQ16-Prayer-1: Would you agree that Jesus’ claim that our “Father in heaven knows what we have need of before we ask?” includes the Father’s knowledge of future events?

BEA-SLQ16: No. The passage does not indicate that God has knowledge of all future events from eternity past, nor even from before Creation, but that we can be confident in Him because He knows our needs before we ask Him to meet them. Thus we should trust Him because He is wiser (and more aware) than we are.

SLQ17-Prayer-2: Would you agree that Jesus’ claim includes knowledge of future events that include free human decisions?

BEA-SLQ17: No. Not in the way you mean. A godly king, without being omniscient, knows what his subjects will need in the future, whether they live or die. God knows better what we will need. If we die, we continue to need God’s love, etc., and if we live, we need air, food, water, etc. To live righteously we need His wisdom, etc. When God planned the creation, He knew what we would need and He providentially provided the earth, etc. for us (but that did not include methamphetamines). I have already answered these questions in BEA-SLQ0/8 and in 3B on How to Falsify Openness.

Peter

Sam, from my perspective, finally, in 7A you came close to actually responding to my argument when you wrote:
Your answer is that ‘God would have been happy if either Peter or Judas had repented.’ But they did not repent. -Sam​
It almost took my breath away (okay, so I get a bit invested) when it seemed that you were going to address my argument. And then you just dropped it. Everybody agrees they did not repent. Sam, you are supposed to either agree, or specify why you disagree with my argument. Instead, you just dropped my argument, and repeated your argument, which I see pleases the Calvinists in the Grandstands, but results in me burning 900 words in this section on Peter repeating myself without the benefit of being challenged.

SLQ18-Peter-1 Did Jesus know in advance that Peter would [deny] him?

BEA-SLQ18: No. Knowledge and expectations are different. Love “hopes all things,” which exhaustive foreknowledge cannot do. (Sam, this is a point you should concede, and failing that, you should challenge it so we can test it.) God’s knowledge is influenced by His love, to produce His hopes and expectations. He then reveals those expectations to man, hoping for the best, even when delivering that hope as a prophecy of destruction or warning.

SLQ19-Peter-2: Did Jesus know in advance the time that Peter would [deny] him?

BEA-SLQ19: No. Not if you mean that He knew this in a way that He preferred the certainty of Peter’s lack of faith over the alternative of Peter actually trusting Him that night. Prophesy is God’s word, delivered to man, and the primary goal of prophecy is to produce obedience in man. Sam, you should address my explicit rebuttals, which you have not. I suggest you re-read my “Rooster” section, beginning where I explicitly challenge your formula for dismissing Nineveh as a parallel to Peter, and where I argued that “Lucifer had already asked to ‘sift’ Peter,” thus this wasn’t just a prediction out of the blue that Peter would be tested. Sam, I apply your words and your exact 3A argument to determine what you would say if Peter had trusted God: “It is obvious that the prophecy Jesus gave to Peter allowed for repentance. If not there is no reason for Jesus to make it, and no reason to give Simon until the rooster’s crow!” Sam, you have committed the logical fallacy of special pleading, and by so doing you have undermined the Petrine centerpiece of your entire three-pronged defense. You need to own up to this contradiction, and correct either your Nineveh explanation, or admit the Peter prophecy was also conditional by your own criteria. God greatly prefers men trusting Him to the fulfillment of prophesy, especially the fulfillment of prophecies of warning and destruction.

SLQ20-Peter-3 If Jesus could have been wrong about this prediction what else could he have been wrong about?

BEA-SLQ20: Everything that He wanted to be wrong about, including that the Jewish leaders would likely persecute His followers, and that many will be deceived by “false christs” who will “deceive, if possible, even the elect.” As with the purpose of all prophetic warning, Jesus prophesied this in hopes of preventing it! The Lord indicates this by continuing, “See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look…,’ do not believe it.” That is: I am telling you this “beforehand,” not to prove that I foreknew or predestined it, but hoping that it will not happen!

SLQ21-Peter-4 If Jesus knew in advance that Peter was going to [deny] him, was Peter still responsible for his actions?

BEA-SLQ21: BEA-SLQ19. Further, any created being could only be responsible for its action if the Creator had enabled it possibly to do otherwise (Gen. 2 - Rev. 22). This SLQ21 ignores my entire position[/I, and also my BEA-SLQ3 definition of will already informed you of my answer. A sinless Adam could have heeded God and obeyed His commands, but “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it,’” (Gen. 3:17) therefore God held him accountable! See also Deut. 11:26-28; Neh. 9:30; Ezek. 18:20, 23, 25; Rom. 1:21; etc.

See also, BEA-SLQ13 and recall from my third paragraph of 1B, that with “the Settled View… a question arises as to whether God wills for evil to occur, regarding human versus divine responsibility for sin… The Open View, alternatively, reports that the future is not settled, and that the responsibility for wickedness thus lies obviously with those in rebellion against God, for cruelties are not required to occur as in the Settled View.” And to the Arminians, if you carefully re-read that paragraph, you will see that I did not indict you for teaching that God ordains sin, but neither could I acquit you from teaching that God created an existence which became marked by sin and suffering, yet no one, and not even He Himself, can ever change the eternally settled future. That irrationality is inherent in your position, and like dividing by zero, it produces undefined results in which God cannot be definitively absolved of responsibility for sin. Thus, only the Open View, on its face and thus obviously, shows God innocent.

SLQ22-Peter-5 Did God orchestrate the events that would cause Peter to [deny] Christ?

BEA-SLQ22: Cause, as in causal? No. The Lord’s prediction regarding Peter is just like His other prophetic warnings. God makes predictions of bad behavior for two reasons, both as a deterrent, and as an encouragement to trust Him. First, as a deterrent, God hopes that men will repent and obey. Second, as an encouragement, if those involved fail to repent, then God hopes that the prophesy will encourage those willing to learn to trust His insight. But in all such prophesies of warning, let me make an application of Samuel’s words, “to obey is better than sacrifice,” that is, God prefers to win men’s hearts than to see fulfilled prophecy, and He would rather have men obey, than to sacrifice their obedience to chalk one up for immutability. And any concern that if God had to prompt an accuser to challenge Peter, that would be a temptation to sin and a violation of James 1:13, is ill-conceived. Asking Peter to admit He is a follower of Christ is not evil; it is not a temptation to sin; it is an honorable test, which he failed. Those questions were an opportunity for Peter to grow in his faith, which was the preferred outcome, but failing that, Christ’s fulfilled prediction showed Peter that Jesus still loved and needed Simon, even though the Lord knew His weakness.

Judas

SLQ23-Judas 1-If the dei in Acts 1:16 does not mean “it is necessary” was Peter mistaken about the prophecy of David? Keep in mind that he does not say “someone” but that the prophecy was about “Judas.”

BEA-SLQ23: Peter was not mistaken when he indicated that Judas illustrated David’s messianic non-prophesy. God orchestrated parallels to Old Testament messianic illustrations, in order to demonstrate that Jesus gave up His life willingly, and was not a victim of circumstance. God used non-prophesies and not specific predictive prophesies because otherwise Lucifer, the high priest, the king, the governor, and others would have especially resisted helping God achieve His ends. Here I’ll address two other related questions you’ve asked:
I have never heard the term ‘non-prophecy’ used to refer to that which is not predictive… I would like to see some criteria for determining a “predictive prophecy” as opposed to a “non-prophecy. -Sam, 3A​
A predictive prophecy explicitly makes a prediction. A non-prophecy makes no explicit prediction, but later can be seen to have illustrated a future event (as Hosea 11:1 with Mat. 2:15). But why use non-prophecy? Why not just say typology, or non-predictive prophecy? Such terms are too imprecise. All non-prophecies are types (symbols, illustrations, shadows), but not all types are non-prophesies. Not every type refers to a future event. When Moses struck the rock (Ex. 17:6) that type symbolized the crucifixion; but the Rock itself was not a symbol of a future event, but of a person, for “that Rock was Christ,” (1 Cor. 10:4), which though not predictive encourages the believer! The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil can be seen as a type of the law [Deut. 1:39; Rom. 3:20; 5:18 & 20; 7:7, 10; Luke 11:52]. Some types can be a “shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5). Thus many types do not qualify as non-prophecies (which must “illustrate future events,” by definition). Prophecy is anything spoken by a prophet, and so the excellent term non-predictive prophecy doesn’t specifically refer to non-prophecies since it also includes past-tense reminders of God’s deeds. If you Google “non-prophecy,” you will see that Jewish “anti-missionaries” currently own the term, trying thereby to discredit most Christian prophecy. Just as homosexuals with worldly wisdom (Luke 16:8b) appropriated and redefined stigmatizing terms with extraordinary effect, Christians should refer to non-predictive prophesies that in hindsight illustrate future events as non-prophesies. The term non-prophecy exposes the modern error that you are echoing Sam, which views all prophecy as predictive, and far from being “blunt,” the term is instructive, extremely specific, and fills the students’ need to distinguish between classes of prophecies. And hey, it’s better to have a term to identify a class of objects than not, especially when it helps clarify theological debates which confuse predictions with illustrations. Sam, if you know of a better term that specifically refers to a non-predictive prophecy which illustrates a future event, please suggest it.

And you asked, “Did Mary and Joseph have the choice not to go to Bethlehem?” Yes. “What would have happened if they had chosen to ignore the census?” While it is unlikely that a young betrothed pregnant couple would risk death by obstinately disobeying the decree of the brutal Augustus Caesar, still, if they were so inclined, I am sure that God would have then asked them to go. At other times, he directed them by vision or dream. I am sure D. James Kennedy can carefully select new-hires, and confidently send them out on a ministry trip. Sam, I’m sure you would honor a request from Dr. Kennedy to go on a business trip, even without a concurring decree from Caesar or angelic visitation. And if any of you refused, Samuel, Mary, or Joseph, God and Kennedy could deal with it. “Was the census ordained by God?” Yes. The Holy Spirit inspired Korah (not the one swallowed alive into hell) to prophesy (interpretation in brackets):
And of Zion it will be said, “This one [David] and that one [the Son of David, the Christ] were born in her [Bethlehem]; and the Most High Himself shall establish her [Bethlehem, the city of David].” The LORD will record, when He registers [Caesar’s census] the peoples [throughout the ruling empire]: “This one was born there [to document Micah 5:2].” -Ps. 87:5-6​
God planned to persuade the future emperor to conduct a census. See the section on Roosters for a discussion of the divine power of persuasion. My initial presentation of NOAH, non-prophesies, and my discussion of Judas had already answered these questions. Sam, when I disagree with your answers, I am still thankful that you have at least answered. Please try to distinguish between unanswered questions, and answers you disagree with.

SLQ24-Judas 2- You mention that you want to follow the NKJV which translates the text as “Scripture had to be fulfilled.” Can you let me know how that allows for a non-fulfillment?

BEA-SLQ24: I never said I “follow the NKJV.” I use the NKJV. In 5B I mentioned my informal debate with a Calvinist from the NKJ translation team who defended his Settled View doctrine with a common Calvinist argument that contradictions, which they call “antinomies,” are acceptable. Most translations, including the NKJ, were translated by men Committed to Augustinian Tradition, and show their bias. For more, please see BEA-SLQ23, [BEA-]SLQ10 specifically on Acts 1:16, and my 2A section titled, “This Scripture had to be fulfilled… concerning Judas,” where I defended at length my answer that, “it was fitting that Old Testament passages about betrayal illustrated Judas.” Sam, if you disagree with my answer, it is reasonable for you to explain why. It is not reasonable to just ask the questions again as though I have not responded.

SLQ25-Judas 3-The next time we see Peter speaking about the death of Christ is in Acts 2:23 where Peter again says that Christ’s delivery to be crucified was the plan of God, but that the men who engaged in it were still responsible. Is this not a clear indication of God’s preplanning an event and yet still holding those who engaged in the evil event responsible?

BEA-SLQ25: Yes it is clear that God planned the cross, and holds responsible the participants. But by this question you meant to ask something that you forgot to bring out, your assumption that if God planned an event, that means He must have compelled all the eventual participants. Why would this be? Men plan events all the time, from class meetings to Super Bowls to wars, which involve dozens, or thousands, or millions of free will agents, and we make stuff like this happen all the time. Why do you suppose God would be incompetent apart from foreknowledge? Was it foreknowledge, or His own creative genius that enabled Him to design DNA? You know that it wasn’t foreknowledge, that He just peaked ahead to see how proteins would be assembled, and then took the credit for designing the process. Remember Sam, if you want to use these kinds of arguments, you need to find a deist to debate, because these arguments are largely irrelevant to Open theism. We only reject exhaustive foreknowledge, yet the Settled Viewer then assumes that God would become incapable of most any accomplishment, whereas they all believe that He was capable of designing and implementing the ENTIRE CREATION, not because he foresaw how the moon produces the tides, but because He designed and brought it to pass. So the Father planned the crucifixion, by His “determined purpose and foreknowledge,” but did not compel any individual to participate, not even His own Son, who went to the cross willingly. This has been my answer all along.

SLQ26-Judas 4-Does Christ base his deity on the accuracy of his predictions (John 13:19; please see response below)?

BEA-SLQ26Regarding concern over the accuracy of Christ’s predictions, please see my three previous answers, BEA-SLQ23/24/25, and for deeper treatment see [BEA-]SLQ4/11, and the 4,030 words in 2B about Judas which all four of these Judas answers essentially repeat.

Regarding Sam’s continued argument that John 13:19 specifically claims deity, any reader who sees this as an unfortunate rabbit trail is correct, for both sides agree that Jesus is God, and are wasting words on the grammar here. I have no choice but to continue this because of Sam’s harsh attack on my credibility, which could undermine a reader’s confidence in my entire presentation. So, I take Sam on in his special area of expertise.

Readers unfamiliar with language studies may have difficulty following this disagreement, and since you teach Greek, they’ll probably think you are right, especially with you asking things like:
What else would Christ be claiming to prove? That he was Jesus? Certainly not! -Sam​
Of course not. But why did you reverse the natural order of the name and title of the Lord, and imply that I was arguing something silly, instead of giving the reader the benefit of you confronting my actual argument, which you should have represented like this:
“What else would Jesus be claiming to prove? That he was the Christ? Well, that is possible!” -Bob reveals Sam’s obfuscation​
And Sam for all your rebuttals you have ignored my first and strongest argument on this from BEA-SLQ11, that regarding this verse teaching Christ’s deity:
you can take it that way interpretatively if you’d like. However the translators of the KJV, my NKJV, and your NIV [and NASB] disagree with your grammatical claim, and translate it not as in John 8:58, with the divine title, I AM. Rather, they supplied the predicate nominative as is so common… So the translators render this, “I am He,” which here can mean that He is the Christ.​
Not that He is the Jesus, which is belittling. In 3A readers easily could have been mislead to think that based upon Greek grammar, this must be a claim to deity:
what we have here is a clear instance of the lack of a predicate nominative. That is, Jesus does not say “I am he” he simply says, “I am.” -Sam​
Then you built your Judas argument upon this erroneous grammatical claim, that this is therefore a “claim to deity,” and “John has reported to us the use of the phrase ‘I am,’” which the KJV, my NKJV, and your NIV and NASB disagree with! By the way, of the 14 Bible translations that come with my $600 industry-standard Logos software, only one used your “certain” translation: The Good News TranslationYikes! The others all agreed with me.

So, I did not argue that Jesus is not God, nor that the Christ is not God, I was merely pointing out that you can take it that way “interpretatively,” with the GNT, which would follow because Jesus is Christ and God. But the grammar does not require the translation that you said was “certain,” and as the KJV/NKJV/NIV/NASB/ASV/ISV/NRSV/etc. translators disagree with!

I can even quote you to prove my point, for in 2A you quoted the text and then immediately misquoted it, with most readers not noticing. Here’s your quote, and misquote:
“you may believe that I am He.” The “I Am” passage”​
What I AM passage? It’s not in your text (unless the period was a version switch to the GNT). Sam, you are putting me down, for my rock-solid correction of your grammatical overstatement, and you have done so before readers unfamiliar with basic Greek, saying: “Enyart’s lack of training in linguists and in Biblical Greek betray him,” while openly allowing your bias to insist upon a “certain” interpretation:
“The Ego Eimi passage here without a predicate nominative is a claim to Deity. I teach Greek for a living, have published a book on Greek with a major publisher, and in this area I am certain… -Sam​
And then you gave the switcheroo of name and title to make my argument look ridiculous. But in 2A, without informing inexperienced readers, you simply omitted the “He,” and in 3A, you used a purely grammatical argument, saying:
not every occurrence of “ego eimi” …is indicative of Jesus’ claim to deity. …but what we have here is a clear instance of the lack of a predicate nominative. That is, Jesus does not say “I am he” he simply says, “I am.”​
That is misleading to those who haven’t studied language since it is common, including in Greek, to say, “I am,” meaning, “I am he.” And of course the Greek translation of the Septuagint rendered God’s name as εγω ειμι. I know that Jesus is God, so we are back where I started, in that I will agree that you can indicate this refers to His deity, interpretatively. Sam, lets get off this rabbit trail.

Noah’s Name

I’ll say here Sam, by standard linguistic scholarship and reference works, you are correct and I am wrong about my claim that there is a derivative relationship between the verb for repent/comfort nacham and the name Noah (both of which appear in Gen. 5:29, and then nacham in 6:6 and 6:7). However, linguists can sometimes miss the forest for the trees, overlooking the text by bogging down in phonetics. So, as a lifelong student of Scripture with no Hebrew training (and only a few years of Greek), in the next round I’ll present the biblical linkage between Noah and nacham. (Oh, and as for Mr. “Forgets-to-run-the-spell-check,” accusing me of misspelling my transliteration of nacham, Sam uses naham (for people familiar with guttural Hebrew), whereas nacham is a common spelling for unfamiliar readers to sound out the word. Stick a C pretty much anywhere to help you get that Hebrew throaty thing going :) .)

Questions for Sam

Sam, you wrote:
If I have missed or misrepresented any of the questions that Rev. Enyart has asked, it has been because of my own frailty, not out of a desire to avoid them. -Sam, 6A​
Thanks for offering! Please copy the complete original questions, and answer:

Missed
• Has God ever been able to change the future? BEQ21
• Can God be more effective than people are without using foreknowledge? BEQ23
• Like making a rooster crow, could God fulfill some prophecy with His abilities rather than by foreknowledge? BEQ28

Misrepresented
• Can God know something future because He plans it rather than sees it? BEQ14
• Do prophecies of the future inherently prove foreknowledge? BEQ13/20
• Are foreordination and foreknowledge the same thing? BEQ12/19
• Offer a theoretical falsification of the Settled View. BEQ11/18
• Should Christianity make an effort to identify pagan influence? BEQ30
• Provide specific hermeneutics (more than find out what the author meant) BEQ25
• Is it true that non-verbal, actual divine intervention cannot be a figure of speech? BEQ32

BEQ33: In Battle Royale X, the side that has often appealed to extra-biblical sources in defense of it’s position is:
A: The Open View
B: The Settled View

BEQ34: Sam, can you identify any curriculum resource at Knox (Reymond’s text, etc.), that explicitly affirms to your students that God is able to change?

BEQ35: Sam, to my question, “Is God able to change such that He can have true relationship,” you answered “yes” but added “depending upon what one means by the word change,” and then you withheld from the readers whatever you mean by change! Please clarify.
 

Nathon Detroit

LIFETIME MEMBER
LIFETIME MEMBER
DING - DING -DING

That's it for round number seven.

Round eight has begun and Dr. Lamerson is now on the clock and has until September 6th 7:45AM (MDT) to make his 8th post.

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

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

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

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Samuel Lamerson

New member
Battle Royale X
Round 8​


I am posting early, not for any tactical reason but simply because my schedule has become much more demanding now that school has started. I would not be able to post tomorrow morning so there is no point in just holding on to this. I could say that I am posting early in order to give Rev. Enyart the weekend next time, but that would not be the truth, so I won’t say it.

I cannot help but think that again, we are simply talking past one another. I am sure that there will be claims of victory by both sides depending upon who reads the transcript. What I am not sure about is that there has been very much real clash. One of the things you will find me pointing out in this post are all of the things that Rev. Enyart has failed to respond to. He will point out those same things in his post and on we will go. I should say that I am going to hold Rev. Enyart to his promise of an average of 6,000 words. I have carefully kept track of the numbers and will let the reader know, in post nine how many words he has left. On to the salt mines.

Appealing to Non-Scriptural Authority

This argument is flawed on a number of levels. I will mention two:

First, realize that cited or not Rev. Enyart has used the ideas and teachings of many people. He says this:

Now here is the list of all of the sources and authorities I have appealed to in support of Openness:1. ScriptureI have only referenced non-biblical sources to expose your position and arguments!

Rev. Enyart seems to have forgotten a few things. He mentions his pastor from whom he learned the OV, John Sanders, specific web sites on logic and others. The point of course is that neither one of us mentions anyone is the same sense that we appeal to Scripture.

Second, I believe that there are many who are smarter than I am. God has blessed many people in the church with the ability to understand Scripture. To ignore the work that has been done before us is to be foolish. That is, unless we know more than anyone who has come before us. I don’t, and I don’t believe that Rev. Enyart would say that he does either. That is the reason that he dropped out of school and went to Colorado to study.

Rev. Enyart Commits the Cardinal Error

It has become clear to me as this debate proceeds that Rev. Enyart has not read Dr. Reymond’s systematics. It is the cardinal error of debate to attack a source which one does not know. Remember that he is the one who brought up Reymond’s work not I. Again, I simply say that this is not a debate. It is a nice forum for Rev. Enyart to put forth whatever ideas he may have, but it is not a debate.

On Specific Responses

ON THE HEBREW WORD

As to the spelling issue I apologized to using that argument and apologize again. The only problem was that Rev. Enyart quoted a source and misspelled the very word he was talking about. That, along with the very important part of the quotation that was left out (notice that he did not even mention this in his last post) indicate to me that he was not trained in Hebrew. If we are going to quote sources, let us at least quote them fairly. In both cases (Hebrew and Greek) when Rev. Enyart has quoted a lexicon he has mis-quoted it.

ON THE USE OF “I AM”

Notice that Rev. Enyart does not really deal with the arguments here. He simply wants to call this a “rabbit trail.” It is not a trail at all, but is central to the debate. I have proven that Jesus uses his ability to predict the future to show his deity. Rev. Enyart is simply not qualified to deal with this area of specialized Greek studies. He does not refute my arguments but simply points out what other English versions translate the passage as (and makes a very unfair jab at the NLT). The point is this: IN THAT PASSAGE JESUS VERY CLEARLY TELLS HIS DISCIPLES THAT THEY WILL KNOW THAT HE IS GOD BY THE FACT THAT THE PREDICTIONS COME TRUE.

ON PETER AND JUDAS

Again there is simply no clash. There is no getting around the fact that Jesus predicted the sin of both Peter and Judas. Say what you will, ridicule me, laugh and poke fun, but that is what the text says.

The reason that this is so important is because of the warrant for the OV. The warrant is simply that God values freedom so much that he cannot know the future actions of free human agents. I have shown that God can and indeed does know the actions of agents and in so doing have undermined the basis for all of Rev. Enyart’s argumentation.

Note that Rev. Enyart never responds to the specific charge that Peter is the one speaking here and that he very clearly claims that the death of Jesus was known and planned by God. Yet despite the fact that this death was known and planned by God, the men who committed this crime are still responsible. Thus the following statement is true: God knew both who would kill Jesus and how they would kill him, thus those men had no other choice. Yet because they did what they wanted to do (not because they had the ability to do otherwise) they are held guilty for their crime.

Rev. Enyart claims that Jesus did not know that Peter would deny him. When asked what else Jesus could have been wrong about he responds “Everything that He wanted to be wrong about . . .” First of all this statement has serious logical problems. Secondly in every example that Rev,. Enyart gives “ the Jewish leaders would likely persecute His followers, and that many will be deceived by “false christs” who will “deceive, if possible, even the elect.” there is not one case in which Jesus was wrong. Did Jesus make false statements? According to Rev. Enyart he wanted to, it’s just things did not work out that way.

When asked about Peter’s responsibility under these circumstances Rev. Enyart has this to say, “any created being could only be responsible for its action if the Creator had enabled it possibly to do otherwise (Gen. 2 - Rev. 22)” At least he gave me a specific reference.

Rev. Enyart goes on with his semantics when answering SLQ22-Peter-5 Did God orchestrate the events that would cause Peter to [deny] Christ?BEA-SLQ22: Cause, as in causal? No

Maybe it is just me, but that seems to be avoiding the question.

On the Judas questions things don’t get any better. On SLQ23-Judas 1-If the dei in Acts 1:16 does not mean “it is necessary” was Peter mistaken about the prophecy of David? Keep in mind that he does not say “someone” but that the prophecy was about “Judas.”BEA-SLQ23: Peter was not mistaken when he indicated that Judas illustrated David’s messianic non-prophesy.

The point here is that Peter specifically states that these things were specifically foretold “through the mouth of” David. Calling it a “prophetic non-prophecy” simply does not deal fairly or accurately with the text.

OTHER PASSAGES

I have done my best to keep the discussion focussed. I have nearly begged Rev. Enyart to give me his three best passages but he seems to want to guard them as if they are state secrets. That is he will not give them to me until I give him my hermeneutic. How about this: I USE THE HISTORICAL GRAMMATICAL METHOD TO DETERMINE THE INTENTION OF THE AUTHOR.

Since others watching the debate have wondered why I do not use other passages, I have decided to do so. Here are other passages that prove the fact that God knows the future.

MICHA 5:2

Notice that Rev. Enyart has called Micah 5:2 a “non-prophecy.” This is simply not the case. In this passage, the prophet Micah predicts, among other things, the birthplace of the Messiah – Bethlehem, the city of David. This verse is quoted in Matt 2:6 and alluded to in John 7:42.


This verse follows a description of Israel’s present distress (Mic 4:11-13) and especially with the humiliating and degrading insult given to the king of Judah (Mic 5:1), thus making the future greatness of its role in Israel’s salvation all the more striking. The city of Bethlehem is personified and addressed directly with the dual designation, “Bethlehem, Ephratha.” The key contrast within the verse itself is between the smallness and relative insignificance of Bethlehem as a town with the greatness of its future role as the birthplace of the Messiah.

For our purposes, it is important to note that the fulfillment of the prophecy of Mic 5:2 in the birth of Jesus was brought about by a myriad of free human decisions. These include, among others, the decision of Caesar Augustus to issue his decree to tax his entire empire (Luke 2:1-3) and Joseph’s decision to obey the decree and to travel with pregnant Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where the birth of Jesus occurred (Luke 2:4-7).

That Mic 5:2 points to God’s foreknowledge of his Messiah, the place of his birth, and all the circumstances that brought about that birth in that particular place is shown by the reference at the end of the verse to Messiah’s origins being “from of old, from ancient times.” There has been considerable debate over whether these phrases refer to the eternal nature of the Messiah or to his antiquity in time. But under each understanding, these terms do denote God’s foreknowledge and fore-planning of his Messiah.

I Peter

1 Pet 1:2 is very similar to Rom 8:29 in that the objects of God's foreknowledge are persons, his chosen people, and that God's foreknowledge is seen to be the basis of his electing choice. Often Arminian interpreters understand this verse to mean that God's choice of an individual to be saved is based on his foresight of that person's faith. Thus in a very real sense God's choice is a ratification of the individual's [logically] prior and ultimately autonomous choice of whether or not to believe. Perhaps most to the point in 1 Pet 1:2 is that human faith is best seen here as part of our "obedience to Jesus Christ." And Peter says that we were chosen for such obedience, not because of it.

Later in this chapter, Peter uses the verb which means to foreknow or to forelove. Speaking of Jesus Christ as "a lamb without blemish or defect," whose precious blood has redeemed his people, he says, "He was chosen [lit. foreknown] before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake." Once again the object of God's foreknowledge is personal, in this case his eternal Son. This foreknowledge could hardly be understood as prior cognition of Christ's faith or any other action or attribute of his. Rather, as one can see in the case in Pauline usage, the divine foreknowledge refers to a previous loving commitment (between members of the trinity) and the Father's pre-determination to bring redemption to his people through his Son.

These factors lead us to understand God's foreknowledge of his chosen people in 1 Pet 1:2 as is typical of the SV God's foreknowledge is lovingly personal, he chooses people as part of his determination to bring them to faith and to all the glories and benefits of Christ's work.

MATTHEW 25

In Matt 25:34, Christ as Judge invites his people, who have demonstrated their true identity and spiritual life by giving food, drink, and clothing to “one of the least of these brothers of mine” to come and “take your inheritance prepared for you since the creation of the world.” This is a very strong statement. It seems to state that God has had a place prepared for each of these sheep from before the creation of the world. Of course, one could argue that the fullness of God’s kingdom was indeed planned and prepared before the creation of the world in the hope that sin would never occur and that all people would ultimately inherit it. Yet if the kingdom in Matthew is a reality that one enters into through repentance (cf. Matt 3:2; 4:17; 5:3-4) and if this kingdom has indeed been prepared for God’s people “since the creation of the world,” we should infer that God foreknew the sin that would need to be repented of when he was preparing the kingdom for those he would redeem. That this happened before the creation and before the fall clearly shows that God knew the future sin of free human creatures.

On “Tolle Lege”

I just couldn’t let this go. Rev. Enyart uses this as a means of proving how much I have been influenced by Greek.

1. The phrase is Latin, not Greek.

2. The person who wrote the phrase (Augustine) hated theGreek language.

3. The phrase means “take up and read” and in the context of Augustine’s confessions it means “take up a read the Bible.” I hardly see how a call for anyone to take up and read the Bible is proof of how much I have been influenced by Greek.

Greek Philosophers

As to my not responding to the high number of words that Rev. Enyart spends on the Greek philosophers maybe I misunderstood something. At the start of the debate when Rev. Enyart did not respond to my arguments I was told that only specific questions needed to be responded to. Since there were no specific questions, I did not respond. I believe that the rules apply to both of us, don’t they?


Answers to Rev. Enyart’s Questions

Missed• Has God ever been able to change the future? BEQ21

Since I believe that the future is settled, God knows the future without error and therefore has never changed it.

• Can God be more effective than people are without using foreknowledge? BEQ23

Of course, but the question assumes that God can cease to use foreknowledge which I do not believe.

• Like making a rooster crow, could God fulfill some prophecy with His abilities rather than by foreknowledge? BEQ28

I am not quite sure what you mean here by “abilities” but again, since I believe that God cannot cease to have foreknowledge, the question assumes a non-reality for my position.
Misrepresented• Can God know something future because He plans it rather than sees it? BEQ14

Again, according to my position, the two are not separable.

• Do prophecies of the future inherently prove foreknowledge? BEQ13/20

No, there are false psychics who get things correct sometimes. Prophecies of the future dealing with free agents and without error do prove foreknowledge.

• Are foreordination and foreknowledge the same thing? BEQ12/19

No

• Offer a theoretical falsification of the Settled View. BEQ11/18

Show me a false prediction made by Jesus.

• Should Christianity make an effort to identify pagan influence? BEQ30

Yes.

• Provide specific hermeneutics (more than find out what the author meant) BEQ25

I will use the grammatical historical method in an attempt to determine what the author meant by his written words.

• Is it true that non-verbal, actual divine intervention cannot be a figure of speech? BEQ32

I am not quite sure what you mean here. When I stated that almost all that we know about God is in some sense a figure of speech, I meant that we have to realize that there is a huge gap between the creature and the creator. You mention, for example, God as King as a non figure of speech. Yet was God born like a king? Does he live in a palace? Does he have a queen for a wife? Does he wear a literal crown? Does he wear clothes? Does he get old like a king?

The point is that there is a difference between God and Man that can never be overcome. We use human language to speak of God but he is so much greater than us that our language always falls short of a totally accurate picture (and even the word picture is a figure of speech).

Given that when the Scripture says that God “struck down” a people, does that mean that they felt a fist? You see, we are always struggling to speak of a God who is wholly other, yet use human words.

BEQ33: In Battle Royale X, the side that has often appealed to extra-biblical sources in defense of it’s position is:A: The Open ViewB: The Settled View

I have consistently put forward three passages of Scripture and begged you to do the same so I will say B (as the crowd goes wild with fury).


BEQ34: Sam, can you identify any curriculum resource at Knox (Reymond’s text, etc.), that explicitly affirms to your students that God is able to change?

We all teach that depending upon what a person means by change, God is able to have a relationship with his creatures, and thus able to change.

BEQ35: Sam, to my question, “Is God able to change such that He can have true relationship,” you answered “yes” but added “depending upon what one means by the word change,” and then you withheld from the readers whatever you mean by change! Please clarify.


You were the one who asked the question, would you please clarify what you mean by change?

Questions

SL27-Have you read Plato’s republic? If so in what translation?

SL28-Please share with me what book of Aristotle you have read and in what translations.

SL29-Can you give me one instance of a false statement by Jesus?



Conclusion

Rev. Enyart, in his last post says that I have put forth a “ harsh attack on my [Rev. Enyart’s] credibility” I certainly never intended to be harsh in my attack. I apologize if I seemed so. I believe that the record will show to anyone who reads through the debate that I have tried not to be harsh. Again, I apologize for any harshness that I have been guilty of.

The problem is that Rev. Enyart wants to play both sides of the game. He tells us in one post about his “Greek from twenty years ago.” Then a few posts later he tells us that he has had one of the best Greek educations in Colorado. All I asked, and continue to ask is that Rev. Enyart reply to my specific arguments. I have made every attempt to number them and to make them clear.
My point was, and is, that while Rev. Enyart certainly has many gifts from the Lord, his gifts are different from mine. One of my gifts is in linguistics. Rev. Enyart is simply wrong in this area. Jesus very clearly meant to claim that his deity rested upon his ability to predict the future. The grammar proves this.

Again, I don’t mean to flaunt my education. Education is not the same as wisdom and wisdom comes from the Lord. He does, however, often use other people to teach it to us. My education is in the languages of the Scripture. I know them well and teach them. I listed a number of reasons why Rev. Enyart’s assertion about the passage did not stand up. He did not specifically respond to any of them. At any rate, I hope that you will see that I never meant to be harsh or unkind in any way.

Blessings,

Sam
 

Bob Enyart

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Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 8B

Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 8B

In this round I heavily respond to Sam’s latest post and questions, and present the Open View from the Life of Christ as revealed in the four Gospels. But first:

Sam’s Two Denials

Settled View’s greatest authors have always openly indicated the logical source of the Settled View. Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, etc., have all openly defended the closed future based upon the OMNIs and IMs. Immutability is ultimately the core, and is the rationalization most often given by the inventor and the primary defenders of the Settled View. But since the other OMNIs and IM flow from immutability, they also list some of those attributes to prove that the future is a closed matter. Martin Luther wrote:
“the prescience [Omniscience] and Omnipotence of God, are diametrically opposite to our ‘Free-will.’” -Bondage, 10, xciii

BUT it is this, that seems to give the greatest offence to common sense or natural reason, - that the God, who is set forth as being so full of mercy and goodness, should, of His mere will, leave men, harden them, and damn them, as though He delighted in the sins, and in the great and eternal torments of the miserable. To think thus of God, seems iniquitous, cruel, intolerable; and it is this that has given offence to so many and great men of so many ages. And who would not be offended? I myself have been offended more than once, even unto the deepest abyss of desperation; nay, so far, as even to wish that I had never been born… For after all, a conscious conviction has been left deeply rooted in the heart both of the learned and the unlearned, if ever they have come to an experience of these things; and a knowledge, that our necessity, is a consequence that must follow upon the belief of the prescience [Omniscience] and Omnipotence of God. -Bondage, 10, xciv​
Sam, you have repeatedly denied that God’s goodness and love take precedence over his quantitative attributes of how much power, change, and knowledge God has.

You also deny that the Settled View logically depends upon prioritizing the OMNIs and IMs above God’s being relational, good and loving. But on your side, “the finest theological minds” all disagree with you. I’ll quote myself when I properly referenced Confessions (7, xxxi) to expose the Settled View, that Augustine:
had just repeated one of his favorite themes, that God is “unalterable and in no way changeable,” and then as he's struggling to understand the nature of sin, Augustine wrote: “Whatever [the cause of evil] I saw that no explanation would do which would force me to believe the immutable God mutable.” Translation: Augustine was prepared to sacrifice any teaching, including on God’s righteousness, to preserve utter immutability. -Enyart, 2B​
The Openness movement has identified the pagan Greek origin of exhaustive foreknowledge. And as demonstrated herein, we have amassed much biblical material in support of Openness, and easily correct many Settled View misinterpretations. But now, to further the cause of truth, the Openness movement will begin to sharpen its focus theologically, taking aim specifically at the Settled View’s elevation of power above goodness, and knowledge above love.

I have argued without refutation:
Quantity will always be second to quality. God is love, not data. And though I have all knowledge, but have not love, I am nothing (1 Cor. 13:2). -2B​
When Paul writes that “though I have… all knowledge… but have not love, I am nothing,” he is contrasting quantity to quality. “God is love,” in that the Persons of the Trinity care for the well-being of each other, and the well-being of their creatures. “God is good,” in that He has never violated His own character, the description of which is the eternal definition of righteousness. God has not sinned (by doing or thinking anything contrary to His own righteous nature). And that is affirmed by the biblical and eternal standard of proof, which requires “the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Greek Augustinian Calvinism has not cared much for any actual defense of God’s righteousness, of course, preferring instead to defend his unchangeableness, arguing that He ordains Jeffrey Dahmer to rape and cannibalize other homosexuals for God’s pleasure and glory, because “anything He does” is fine, and “who is man to question Him?” However, God cannot go against His own righteousness and remain holy! For God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isa. 55:9), but they are not lower!

Thus “all” knowledge (quantity) contrasts to “love” (quality) which flows from goodness (quality). Likewise, Paul states that “though I have prophecy… but have not love, I am nothing.” The Settled View exaggerates knowledge into a perversion of prophecy, confusing it for a proof of immutability rather than seeing it as a measure of God’s love. Thus even Arminians have formed the Christian God into the image of Zeus, being trapped Himself, and unable to change the eternally settled future. However, again, we cannot properly refute the Settled View by focusing on Arminius, because he did not establish the biblical proofs for immutability and omniscience, but merely retained the philosophical errors of Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther and Calvin. The Calvinists have the greater guilt, for they portray our heavenly Father as the explanation for Greek Fatalism, and by the pagan belief in stone-cold immutability.

And I can prove Sam’s position wrong by His own admission. After I asked six times, Sam finally agreed, with caveats, that God changes at least for the purpose of relationship. Thus, even “immutability” is a quantitative matter. For Calvinists can be forced into accepting a certain amount of change or change in certain aspects of God such as change for the Incarnation, change for relationship, etc. However, surely Sam will agree with the scriptural truth that Jesus could not have sinned in the least, and still have remained qualified to provide salvation. For if our Lord committed the tiniest wrongdoing, then the cross would not have offered an innocent sacrifice, and Jesus would have died for His own sin and not for others, and God would have come undone. Thus, under pressure the Settled View admits immutability is not absolute, and Openness establishes that God’s goodness is unqualified. Thus JONAH is affirmed, Jehovah’s Obvious Nativity Attributes Hermeneutic, for when the Son became flesh, any holdout commitment to general immutability was shattered, such that JONAH is established by the Incarnation itself.

The Proof of Openness

The proof of openness lies in establishing:

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

Beyond this, the Open View needs merely to mop up:

• put back into context the very few Calvinist/Arminian immutability and omniscience “proof texts”
• remind everyone (as Sam admitted) that prophesies of warning are conditional
• demonstrate various Openness proof texts of God hoping against knowledge, etc. and finally,
• show that The Plot of the Bible, its overall story, corroborates an open future.

Thus Calvinists sacrifice God’s biblically self-evident holiness to the philosophical “consequences of the omniscience and omnipotence of God.”

Three Openness Proof Texts

The three proof-texts that I will now be happy to focus the debate on are:

• John 1:14: The Incarnation disproves General Immutability, showing that God is infinitely changeable.
• Rom. 5:8 The Crucifixion proves Special Immutability, showing God’s utter commitment to goodness.
• Jer. 18:1-10 God as the potter, attempts to mold Israel (and by extension, all people) into a vessel for honor (being utterly committed to goodness), but if the clay (a nation or an individual) is marred in His hand (willfully resists), then God will make that one into another vessel of a different kind (for He is changeable), a vessel for dishonor. Thus, when God thinks that He will bless Israel, and He then says so, if she rebels however, then He will “repent,” and not do that which He had “thought” He would do, and will not do that which He had “said” He will do, showing Himself alive, personal, relational, temporal, good, responsive, and loving, and specifically not omniscient and generally immutable.

Literal interpretation is best, and correct when it fits the immediate and greater contexts, and is consistent with the nature of God. Therefore, because the Incarnation disproves General Immutability, the Christian can interpret literally all the divine repentance, hope, learning, and expectation passages, and we turn most of the Settled View problem texts of failed prophecies into successful Openness prophecies that produced repentance.

Contrariwise, Sam has demonstrated through seven straight rounds the extreme anxiety with which the Settled View guards General Immutability. Calvinists typically fear giving an enlightening, forthcoming answer to describe how God can change. But perfect love casts out fear. And the brilliance of God’s life, dynamic, changing, creating, increasing, knowing, loving, and becoming, crushes the pagan foolishness of immutability in the divine being. Hundreds now reading this, and Lord willing, thousands soon, are learning for the first time that Calvinists have sacrificed God’s self-evident righteousness for the worthless pagan Greek lie of General Immutability, long since smashed by the Incarnation. But Calvinists proudly and readily charge God with ordaining every cruel act and originating every filthy thought, yet they are desperately hesitant to admit He changes. The great loyalty of the Calvinist is not to God’s honor, but to changelessness.

God’s Special Immutability, that is, His total commitment to goodness, is established by His willingness to sacrifice that which is dearest to Him, His own Son, for the good of others. Thus, from the Incarnation (John 1:14) we know that God can change without limit, and from Christ’s death (Rom. 5:8) we know that the Father is immutably, by His will, committed to goodness, not that He cannot, but that He will not, commit evil.

God’s Openness by the Gospels

This outline of God’s experience on earth will seem vaguely familiar, for even the darkest philosophy cannot mask all truth. Yet the Settled View has mostly stripped this divine drama out of the Gospels, by:

1. overlooking the risk taken by the Holy Spirit when He narrowed the messianic bloodline unalterably into one person
2. pretending that the Son gave up nothing of substance to become flesh and to live the human experience for Himself
3. minimizing the extraordinary change that occurred in heaven when the Son came down to earth
4. ignoring the concern that the wicked now could actually kill the Father’s Son, whose well-being He placed into the hands of human parents
5. denying the Father’s enhanced blessing, aggrandizement, and increased joy as He watched His Son grow
6. gutting the lifelong and wilderness temptations of Jesus into nothing more than a mere formality
7. revising Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane to censor His actual fear and plea for reconsideration
8. turning Christ’s crucifixion into a mere reenactment of something actually done before the foundation of the earth
9. discounting the Son’s anguish when He became sin for us as the Father forsook Him
10. limiting the infinite change that God endured when the Father poured wrath onto the Son who gave His life for us
11. neglecting the role of the Holy Spirit in justifying the Son after He had taken upon Himself the sin of the world (1 Tim. 3:16)
12. disregarding the greater sacrifice of the Father, preferring instead to sanitize His role through General Immutability

God’s Knowledge

The Settled View has a siege position which declares that the Son did not empty Himself by humbly giving up any of His attributes of power and knowledge. Jesus, though, said this:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father, (Mark 13:32; Mat. 24:36).​
Here Christ flatly admits that He does not have omniscience. So this verse alone proves JONAH, and therefore, NOAH.

Philosophical commitments, though, die hard. So in desperation, Settled Viewers attempt to deal with such “difficulties” by an extraordinarily unbiblical secondary assumption that splits Jesus into two, like a Messianic multiple personality syndrome, perhaps more accurately described by today’s psychiatric term Dissociative Identity. As though in heaven, if you go to God’s throne room (I despise even having to speak like this), you can see Jesus sitting on His throne, and through a window also see Him outside picking fruit from the Tree of Life. God the Son has eternally changed forms, and has indwelt the image God had created for Him, and through the Incarnation has given evidence of infinite mutability, forever taking upon Himself humanity, not only so that He could save us, but also so that we could better relate to Him! But even if that unbiblical concept happened to be true by the chance of a wild guess, still Jesus spoke of “the Son,” lacking this foreknowledge, not “the Christ.”

The Lord’s words make it clear He spoke of Himself in His exalted deity. Notice the progression. Of that day, first, “no one” no people know; secondly, not even “the angels;” thirdly, nor “the Son;” but only “the Father!” Jesus could have referred to Himself from the perspective of His emptied Self who by the Incarnation was made “a little lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:9), as “the Son of Man.” But here He refers to Himself in all His divine glory, above the angels, and second, by His will, only to the Father! So, and of course, God the Son lacked this knowledge.

Sam has twice referenced, but has not explained this important Mark 13 verse. A Settled Viewer who is timid will intuitively sense his vulnerability, and reveal as little as possible of his beliefs. Consider Sam’s statement regarding the Son’s claim that He knew not the Day of the Second Coming:
Jesus felt no shame in admitting that his knowledge was limited in at least one area.​
One area? At least one area?. Area? One?Think this through. Consider the Calvinist who believes that God has micromanaged all eternity, and the Arminian who believes that God microscopically foreknows all eternity. And they are trying to spin this, and contain the threat to immutability and omniscience, by minimizing what is unknown here.

NOT KNOWING the Day of the Second Coming is utterly debilitating toward anything like exhaustive foreknowledge. Without knowing that Day, far more than 99.99999999999999999999999% of the future would be unknowable. Knowledge heavily interacts. And the more central the knowledge, the more other data depend upon that information. For example, is it possible for someone to know everything, or almost everything, or even most things, about the year 2001, but NOT KNOW the day that Al Qaeda attacked America? Of course not. On September 10, Wall Street ran normally; September 12, Wall Street could not function, and the Twin Towers were gone. By the concept of omniscience, “mostly omniscient” is not an option. If the “one area” of missing knowledge was something as relatively unimportant as yesterday’s commodity price of pork bellies, even still, a multitude of other dependant information would also be unavailable, such as short-range economic trends, financial risks and opportunities, the net worth of millions of businesses and individuals.

Now, suppose that God the Son (or for the sake of argument, as Sam implies, the human side of Jesus) retained most of His omniscience (whatever that would mean), but had “limited” knowledge in at least this “one area.” What would that produce at the micromanaged/microscopic level? Nothing less than a virtual information blackout that lasts through eternity future! Turning the Living God into a Settled metaphysical equation produces bizarre consequences. In reality, God’s confidence flows from His wisdom and planning, which are never darkened! The Day of Christ’s Second Coming is central to End Times eschatology. From the Settled side, imagine if Jesus knew pretty much everything in the future, except that piece of data! The Second Coming stops “the kingdoms of this world” in their tracks. The wicked can no longer slaughter the innocent. The timing of the Second Coming affects everything from the world’s economy, to the procreation of eternal human souls, to the destruction of this earth!

Further, as God the Son grew, from conception through infancy into boyhood, His mental faculties grew also, and He obtained access to memories He had shared with the Father from before the foundation of the world. Those were cherished memories, and He also recalled specifics, like that He only supernaturally helped one widow in the time of Elijah, and one leper in that of Elisha (Luke 4:26-27). Thus, if He had known the day of His Return eternally, then He would have had to specifically forget that. Omniscience is so unreasonable.

The Lord’s words in Mark 13 are a gift to those struggling to put aside the pagan notions of immutability and exhaustive foreknowledge. Because He makes it evident that God has not micromanaged, nor microscopically sees, all of eternity future.

Contingency of the Second Coming

As to the Father, how is it that He could know the Day and the Hour? It is because the decision is His to make! He will decide when to send Christ back! The entire Second Coming itself is a contingency. As Jesus so clearly said of the Last Days:
"For then there will be great tribulation… Mat 24:22 "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. -Mat. 24:21-22​
And rather than write that the Day is in stone, Peter himself followed Christ by writing that “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (2 Pet. 3:10), so you ought to be holy:
looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved… -2 Pet. 3:12​
Hastening.

Not only the hour and the day, but the Father had not definitely selected which year, decade or century. As for which season the midpoint of the Tribulation would arrive during, Jesus knew such timing to be unsettled, instructing them to “pray that your flight may not be in winter” (Mark 13:18). Calvinism, even more than Arminianism, have MAJOR problems justifying the purpose of prayer. But how about here? The Calvinist says God wants us to pray, not that our love can touch His heart, nor our words affect His mind, nor our pleas move His hand, but because “I said so.” Like make-work in boot camp, digging a hole to fill it in. The Arminian says, less callously but with as much irrationality, that God wants us to pray, because although He has eternally known all outcomes, including exactly when the Second Coming would occur, He previously factored in our prayers. This is not The Relational God; it is the Previously Relational God, now stuck. The New Testament story shows that the Father retains the freedom to send Christ back upon His say so. It is not as though He lost the God prerogative eons ago, and now He’s eternally stuck with His ancient decisions. No! For He is ALIVE.

Sam, you answered BEQ11/18, in which I asked how the Settled View could be falsified, and you answered: “Show me a false prediction made by Jesus.”

I answered this in 6B. Sam, you could have taken any number of bullets from my list of the last third of Bible history, and furthered the debate by clashing over them. And since I’m afraid you may not go back to look at them, I’m forced to take a huge hit on word count and repeat selected ones here.

God declared in Jeremiah 18 that even if He thought to give Israel their kingdom, and even if He said He would give Israel their kingdom, if they rejected the King, then He would repent. Then He would NOT give them that which He thought He would, nor that which He said He would! God does not make idle threats.

I’ve slightly updated these bullets, which indicate (grammatically, historically :)and overwhelmingly), that Jesus had promised to return quickly with power to establish Israel’s kingdom. But most Christians have never even seen these related verses collected like this, and thus they have never even considered this collected biblical material, because the Settled View so biases them, that they do not easily retain in their memory passages that seem to contradict it. Thus the multitude of Christians have not evaluated these passages, and interpreted them otherwise. By the darkening of Settled View bias, THEY HAVEN’T EVEN NOTICED THEM YET! Nonetheless, as central to the story of the entire Bible, after Israel rejected their risen Messiah (and of course not possibly before), God cut off Israel’s Covenant of Circumcision, and grafted in the Body of Christ, where for the first time since Abraham there is “no difference between Jew and Gentile.” While these bullets were mostly ignored by the Settlers two rounds ago, perhaps now as an answer to Sam's question, they'll be considered:

• Jesus repeatedly promised to return soon (giving the apostles the hope they displayed in Acts of His imminent return).
• “There are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
• “I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
• “This saying went out among the brethren that [John] would not die. Yet Jesus did not say… he would not die, but, ‘If I will that he remain till I come…’”
• “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things [Second Coming prophecies] take place.”
• “For three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree [Israel] and find none. Cut it down… But he answered and said, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’”
• God would soon fertilize Israel by pouring out the Holy Spirit (but no national fruit of the Spirit would result).
• Just days before His death, Jesus prepared His disciples to suffer the great tribulation. Mat. 24; etc.; John 16:2-5
• 490 years were “determined for [Israel]… until… Messiah shall be cut off” followed by a 7-year tribulation. Dan. 9:24-27; Mat. 24:3, 15, 34
• Because Jesus had told them to expect the Great Tribulation and His soon return, in preparation, the Twelve Apostles administered a Last-Days economy of selling all private property.
• “All who believed… sold their possessions. Acts 2:45
• “All who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and laid [the proceeds] at the apostles’ feet” Acts 4:34-35
• Limiting God’s ability to give Israel the blessing of their Earthly Kingdom, the nation rejected the preaching of the risen Christ. Acts 2-5
• God had warned Israel saying: "the instant I speak concerning” building your kingdom, if you do evil, “then I will repent” and not give you your kingdom! Jer. 18:9-10
• Jesus had spent three years of earthly ministry looking for faithfulness in Israel, and found almost none. Luke 7:9
• Israel now has “become the betrayers… who have received the law… and have not kept it.” Acts 7:52-53
• Israel’s leaders plotted persecution, they killed their first Messianic believer, and then extended their persecution Acts 6-8
• Peter pleaded with the men of Israel that, even though Jesus has ascended into heaven, if they will repent, God will send the Lord back to establish Israel’s kingdom!
• “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration…” Acts 3:19-21
• “Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.” Acts 3:24
• The Apostles were themselves expecting to see Jesus return, by the promise of angels (Acts 1:11), and by the Lord’s word.
• However, Israel ignored God’s warning, thinking it an idle threat (Jer. 18:18) deluding themselves into thinking that God was a slave to His promise, regardless of their response
• Because Israel rejected Christ, God therefore cut her off, and in regard to being cut off, in this Israel cannot resist His will
• God has mercy on whom He wills, and since He wills to give mercy only to those who trust Christ, He therefore cut off Israel, molding her into a vessel for dishonor rather than the vessel for honor He had originally hoped to form. Rom. 9
• For unbelief, God “cut off” Israel’s Covenant of Circumcision, and turned “to the Gentiles” Rom. 11:20-25
• They of “the election” [Israel], beloved for Abraham, had become “enemies” of the “gospel.” Rom. 11:28
• Therefore “wrath has come upon them [Israel, v. 14] to the uttermost” having been cut off. 1 Thes. 2:16
• Israel’s “being cast away is the reconciling of the world [i.e., the Gentiles, through the Body of Christ, which is not Israel]. Rom. 11:15

What could Jesus be wrong about? Everything He wanted to be wrong about. While He promised Israel to return to establish their kingdom, He would not be taken for a fool. So Jesus cut off Israel, and delayed His return indefinitely, working instead with the Body, and waiting until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in before He returns to His plan for Israel (Rom. 11:22-31; 9).

Errors multiply. The Settled View is producing preterists who believe that the Great Tribulation prophecies were mostly fulfilled by A.D. 70, but Jesus predicted a “great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Mat. 24:21). If this were not a false interpretation, it would have been a false prophesy.

The Christ Child

God invested everything He had in providing our salvation, and that included His Son. God the Son became flesh and Mary “brought forth her firstborn Son” and Joseph “called His name JESUS.” Now God the Son had a birthday, a new name – and human parents! The Father, entrusted the care of Jesus into the hands of Joseph and Mary! Of course, the Holy Spirit was looking out for Him. But they were raising Him! And for the first time, God the Son was vulnerable to wicked men, WHO COULD KILL HIM IF THEY GOT THEIR HANDS ON HIM!

The Father experienced the kind of intense concern for His Child that we experience if our children are in danger:
… an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”​
So Joseph fled Judea “by night,” and remained in Egypt “until the death of Herod.”

Because God is relational, the changes the Son experienced deeply affected the Father. What good dad does not revel in his son’s first word, or step, or sentence, or joke, or insight, or prayer? And God the Father experienced all this, not less then men do by some perverse impassibility, but far more than we can, because His ways are higher than our ways, and His feelings deeper, and His love stronger! Thus:
Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. -Luke 2:52​
Jesus changes, God changes, for Jesus is God.

Once we see the magi justly worshipping Baby Jesus, we can codify a hermeneutic, for the attributes that Baby did not possess are not the essential attributes of His worthiness. Sam began this debate defending his strategy to focus on, and has selected his primary three arguments from, the Gospels. What if we had stayed in the Gospels throughout? For Sam to win, by my judgment, he would have had to present proof-texts for the OMNIs and IMs (for this debate is about omniscience) from the Gospels, as he has in fact pulled out a few passages trying to argue omniscience. (However even if those arguments were perfect, Sam’s evidence is NOT for exhaustive knowledge from eternity past, which is what he’s supposed to defend in this debate, but he’s arguing evidence from a couple hours or a few centuries earlier, and hoping to finesse that into a victory by an undeclared major extrapolation, and I’ve been waiting all this time for him to declare and justify that assumption.) Per JONAH, the Open View would have to prove, above any interest in the quantitative attributes, that the four Gospels emphasize God’s biblical attributes. So, which set do Matthew, Mark, Luke and John emphasize?

To determine this, I uncap a new yellow marker and begin looking for passages to highlight which emphasize God as being living, personal, relational, good and loving. And after about three hours… I give up!

Because my hi-liter is out of ink.

More than a Conqueror

God the Son had never followed a forerunner before. He had never worn sandals. He had never experienced the physical human needs for food and water, shelter and sleep. He had never been tempted before. Temptation becomes a sin when a man is “drawn away” and “enticed,” as our Lord never was. But the Settled View, which by its nature depersonalizes God, lures people into minimizing God’s accomplishments as a way, they think, of exalting Him. Consider creation and temptation. Christians say: “God could have created everything in one second if He had wanted to,” and by that they think they are exalting God. But there are two statements to that equation. The first is God’s glory, and the second is His accomplishment. To suggest that Creation for God was as difficult as a yawn is not inherently glorifying to Him, as though He could not conceive of a challenge! To describe Christ overcoming temptation as a mere formality, as a mere property of His existence, in which He could not have done otherwise, is not to elevate Him, it is to diminish His love for us, and His accomplishment.

God the Son Lowered Himself

The Incarnation smacks the daylights out of General Immutability. Let it go! God is Alive. Calvinists and Arminian Settlers should just let it go. But they will not, because of their Commitment to Augustinian Tradition. Tolle Lege.

Showing the stuff of real theology, Jesus prayed:
And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.​
What Jesus had given up to come to save us was many of His prerogatives as God! Sam’s claim on this is desperate. Psalms, Hebrews and Philippians teach explicitly what other books imply, that God would lower Himself to become our Savior (but would afterward thereby be exalted). In order to come “in the likeness of men,” (Phil. 2:7) Jesus “did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,” for He had the right of ownership to the divine attributes, and likewise, since He owned them, it would not be a case of robbery to empty Himself of them, for He also had the right to divest Himself of them [Mat. 20:15]. Sam’s claim on this shows the Settler’s loyalty to immutability at the expense of what God actually sacrificed for us:
“Christ did empty himself of his blood for our redemption, but not of any of the attributes of God.” -Sam​
Of course Scripture speaks of Christ pouring out His blood. But the divestiture that Paul writes of was done so that God could take “the form of” and come “in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). The lowering, call it what you will, the emptying, the giving away one’s reputation, that was done for the Incarnation, which is not the same thing as the Crucifixion.

God’s glory comes from His attributes. And God the Son had divested Himself of some of the attributes that had shown His eternal glory.
"And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” John 17:5​
Not before, but now! Now that His thirty-three years on earth were soon to end, Jesus asked His Father to restore the eternal glory they shared. When Sam denies Christ’s direct teachings on the Son’s limited knowledge, and His diminished glory (which comes from His attributes), we see that his appeal to extra-biblical sources takes precedence over the lessons of the “historical Jesus.”

God the Son knew everything knowable that He wanted to know. But through the Incarnation, He emptied Himself of vast resources of knowledge and power. However Jesus remained in communion with the Holy Spirit, and so had access to God’s power, and to His knowledge on a need-to-know basis. Sometimes He knew men’s thoughts, but most likely not supernaturally, but by His perfection, wisdom, and discernment (Luke 9:47). And when do human thoughts become knowable by God? Of course, when we think them. As “when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered" them.
Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” -Luke 9:47-48​
God is, above all: Relational, Good, Loving. Christ’s repeated teaching that God will save whoever believes, receives, seeks, etc., is interpreted away in order to preserve pagan General Immutability, which creed should have been crushed by the Incarnation. Superstition angered Jesus, so He rejected the interpretation that God directed the fall of the Tower of Siloam to kill and punish the worst sinners (Luke 13:4-5), and as Columbine dad Brian Rohrbough pointed out, He would give the same answer today regarding any superstitious Calvinist interpretation of tragedy. Settled View proponent Billy Graham, greatly influenced by Augustinian tradition, repeatedly declares, as after 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, that evil is a complete mystery to him. Contrast that to the Bible’s clear and confident explanation of evil that it results from men and angels who disobey God. The lost evangelistic opportunity is incalculable, with Graham only a high profile example of thousands of Christian leaders who cannot even explain to the lost the nature of the war between good and evil because they think it has a behind-the-scenes purpose greater than the clear explanation that God revealed in Scripture, beginning explicitly with Adam’s Fall.

(By the way, by intention or oversight, Sam never responded to Mr. Rohrbough even though Brian addressed Sam in round four. That’s too bad because many readers, including me, were interested in Sam’s thoughts about that letter.)

So Jesus rejected superstition, and yet He comfortably described a priest coming upon a crime victim “by chance” (Luke 10:31), and He intentionally illustrated love by the action of an unbeliever, not by the chosen priest, but by “a certain Samaritan,” of whom Jesus said that they, “worship… what [they] do not know” (John 4:22). Jesus did not suggest that men could not fathom ultimate divine goodness (which to Calvinists appears like filth and cruelty), but rather, as throughout the Bible, Jesus affirmed that God’s goodness is comprehensible even to wicked men. For, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give” good gifts (Luke 11:13)? But by immutability’s interpretation, watch out, this might mean that God will cause a father, even a Calvinist, rape his own daughter!

Augustine told those who believe in Greek fatalism to keep their belief but change their vocabulary. However the Christian veneer of new terminology is insufficient to mask the pagan wickedness of the Settled View’s origins. Immutability here turns Jesus into a liar, because He said that if we ask God for a fish, he will not give us a serpent, whereas the Calvinist says that the serpent is the fish, and that the wrong is the right, and the incest is the pleasure and the glory, and the evil is for the good!

There is so much more in the Gospels, but for now, suffice it to say that they manifestly DO NOT reveal immutability, nor exhaustive foreknowledge, but:
“the gospel of Christ …is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first [dispensationally] and also for the Greek [Gentiles of the Body]. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed… (Rom. 1:16-17)​
Responding to Sam’s 8A

Thanks for answering BEQ33, “the side that has often appealed to extra-biblical sources in defense of it’s position is: A: The Open View B: The Settled View”
Sam’s answer: “I will say B [The Settled View]”​
GWIMW!

Sam, you tried to counter my demonstration of the sixteen extra-biblical authorities you have heavily appealed to by claiming I appealed to three, my pastor, a logic website, and Sanders. I mentioned Pastor Hill not in argument but in a thank you. I linked to the definition of the logical fallacy known as Special Pleading to expose your contradiction, which you’ve not rebutted, on why the prophecy to Nineveh was conditional but not those to Judas and Peter. And except for one, I referred to Sanders only within quote marks quoting you. My one infraction of appealing to extra-biblical authority came in 4B when I described the 2001 conference we both attended saying “the same time you were [there] I heard John Sanders give his wonderful defense of Openness,” which claim, though not made in argument for my position but in an effort to expose yours, could try to subtly sway the reader. Thus the reader can judge whether you answered BEQ33 rightly, regardless.

We should not “ignore the work” of learned men. But to avoid appealing to external authority, the correct use of that education is to put forth the biblical lessons we’ve learned; the bad use is to respond to accusations of weak immutability proof-texts by claiming “Reymond cites no less than 24 passages,” only to have the Openness side call for those passages, and expose them as weak, unrelated, or worse.

Regarding your Tolle Lege signature, I have not accused the Settled View of being influenced by the Greek language, but by the Latin and Greek philosophical OMNIs and IMs through Augustine. So Sam, far from exculpatory, it helps make my point when you write that, “The phrase is Latin, not Greek… [and] the person who wrote the phrase [is] Augustine.”

Sam, you wrote of me: “At least he gave me a specific reference,” listing my “Gen. 2 – Rev. 22,” but you left out the five specific passages I referenced in that short BEA-SLQ21 answer.

I understand memory errors, thus I agree with everything in your four paragraphs about Micah, except for their occasion. For you incorrectly wrote that, “Enyart has called Micah 5:2 a ‘non-prophecy,’” whereas a month ago I wrote in 2B, “A predictive prophecy is one that specifically foretells the future such as Micah 5:2,” as you quoted me in 3A and 5A.

The NIV versions I’ve looked at differ from your quote of Mat. 25:34, “take your inheritance prepared for you since the creation,” which leaves out the words “the kingdom,” as in, “the kingdom prepared for you.” An interpretation of this verse should not be based on those missing words. You wrote that this “strong statement… seems to state that God has had a place prepared for each” of us. But I checked 14 English translations and a few Greek texts, and they all retain “the kingdom” (one says the reign), which is what God prepared for the righteous, not personalized two-room condos overlooking the sea of glass, but the kingdom (of which He is the literal king)! And of course the Father knew the Son before Creation, and together they foreordained that the Son would offer Himself for the salvation of any people who rebelled. Regarding God’s foreknowledge of human fellowships alive in Him, yes, this was the reason for Creation, so Openness can strongly concur that God predestined fellowships, but not individuals, regardless of whether sin occurred or not.

I had stated that after screaming for evidence, your unresponsiveness regarding the evidence for Greek influence on Augustine, Catholicism and the Reformation, was telling. Now you rightly point out that “only specific questions needed to be responded to.” Sam, if you’ll notice, this entire section of mine is responsive, even though none of this appeared in official questions. It’s “clash,” and I have responded this way to the great majority of your arguments, even when they have not appeared as numbered questions. If you have a response, and you would like the readers to know your answer, you are not prohibited from offering it apart from a numbered question! I summed up my entire pagan philosophy accusation into one question which you didn’t answer. BEQ30: “do you agree that Christianity should make a conscious effort to identify pagan Greek influence on Augustine and other leading Christians, and if any is found, to re-evaluate related doctrines on strictly biblical grounds?” While I asked you to “please copy the complete original questions, and answer,” you instead answered an easy “yes” to an abbreviated “should Christianity make an effort to identify pagan influence.” So this round, I will ask again, with a follow-up.

Oh yeah, and I floated Noah to 9B :) .

Bob Answers Sam’s Questions

SLQ27-Have you read Plato’s republic? If so in what translation?
SLQ28-Please share with me what book of Aristotle you have read and in what translations.

BEA-SLQ27/28: I have never read a lengthy work of Plato or Aristotle cover to cover. (I have read through some Cliff Notes of their works, but figure that’s not cheating since I’m not in school :) !) I never logged my hours. But for twenty years I have been casually reading pagan philosophy in the interest of exposing the danger of Martin Luther’s Augustinian commitment, and all the books I’ve purchased during that time (more than pictured here, as they are scattered through bookshelves and boxes on three floors of my home).

I’ve read excerpts of Plato’s Republic in a translation by Benjamin Jowett, and another by Francis Cornford, and when reading online, I have never kept track of which translations I had ever read. I don’t know which translation of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Cliffs Notes used, but since they reference Cornford, it may have been his. (And no, I don’t recommend the book as a good read.) My primary text on Aristotle’s works is listed as translated by E. M. Edghill.

TOL-BRX-BE-Library.jpg


I realize the question of which translation to quote from is relevant. Old and New Testament words for letters or writing properly get rendered into the English word “Scripture” by Bible translators, even though the original words themselves are phonetically unrelated to our word Scripture. They do so because they know that the “writings” being referred to equate to the English word “Scripture.” So when I quote Augustine, I prefer F. J. Sheed, because where another translator has the overly literal rendering: “whatever truth I had read in the books,” as though Augustine might even be speaking of Scripture, Sheed clarifies this, and if Augustine is referring to Greek philosophy, he more informatively translates that, “whatever truth I had read in the Platonists.”

SLQ29-Can you give me one instance of a false statement by Jesus?

BEA-SLQ29 No. Above I responded to your other challenge: “Show me a false prediction made by Jesus.” God had promised all along (Jer. 18:1-10) that He would not fulfill the promise to give Israel their Kingdom if in fact they rejected the King. Thus, by the Settled View, it was another failed prophecy when Christ did not quickly returning to establish Israel’s Kingdom; but by Openness, God’s goodness takes precedence over His knowledge, which changes continually, and thus contingency itself flows from our Living God as a glory, not as a problem text.

Questions for Sam

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

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

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

BEQ39: If you agree that Bruce Ware was calling for a reformulation of immutability for a valid reason, that is, because the doctrine had not previously explicitly declared that God is able to change in relationship, does that indicate an extraordinarily fundamental theological shift which will require a reconsideration of other doctrines which have been based upon immutability?

BEQ40: I obtained a copy of Reymond’s 1,200-page textbook used by Knox a few days after this debate began, and if you recall, I only submitted a scan from his Table of Contents to illustrate that immutability is Calvinism’s core teaching regarding God’s nature. I have only read dozens of scattered pages, and have been unable to find Reymond declaring that God can change in relationship. Whether he has or not will be instructive regarding Calvinism’s coming to terms with the problem of General Immutability. Please indicate if Reymond addresses this, and if so, please cite him.

BEQ41: When you answered BEQ21 regarding the future that God “has never changed it,” I’m sure that you meant to say that God has not changed what would have been other than when He originally foreordained all of eternity future. Otherwise, the Bible’s God would be almost exactly like Zeus, stuck in a Fate that even He Himself did not ordain. Please indicate if this more accurately reflects your position, or if not, please explain how the future came to be settled.

In a carefully watched and critiqued debate that will be published (in some form or other), which has already garnered about 40,000 Internet views of the debate and the Grandstands (not hits, but more significantly, views), Sam is demonstrating the kind of waffling that Calvinists famously employ. For when your position is one of contradiction (God ordains evil, yet without blame), of necessity one becomes comfortable with inconsistency. Sam, your unresponsive answers to BEQ14/23/28 indicate that our Rooster agreement is falling apart! If you recall, your unnumbered answer to my BEQ22/28 was that if the original rooster God wanted to crow had died, that “God could have had another rooster crow… I grant that.”

Next, you said in 5A that “the comment about the rooster was simply a small joke,” but this gag has come back to roost. You see Sam, you have flip-flopped. Openness would have a difficult time debating whether God could influence the high priest or Judas, apart from exhaustive foreknowledge, unless you first agreed that at the very least, He could make a rooster crow, BEQ28: by “His abilities… without relying upon exhaustive foreknowledge.” So Sam, you had granted that in 7A! Now in 8A, you still refuse to answer BEQ14/23/28 because “I am not sure what you mean here by ‘abilities’ but again, since I believe that God cannot cease to have foreknowledge, the question assumes a non-reality for my position.” Then Sam, you shouldn’t have granted your answer to BEQ22/28 as you did. So now I need to know if the joke is on me, or not. For example, when God designed DNA, I assume you do not believe that He simply peeked into the future to see how a protein would function, and then simply claimed credit for being the Creator, by ripping off the design of evolution. Thus, God has the ability to do things, such as ordain His own plans, and create the universe, apart from simply doing that which He has passively foreseen. As you’ve rightly answered [SLA-]BEQ12/19: “No,” foreordination and foreknowledge are NOT the same thing! And with that you’ve thrice contradicted yourself on this issue. Either [SLA-BEQ22/28] God CAN make a rooster crow apart from foreseeing it; or foreknowledge ([SLA-]BEQ14) is “NOT separable” from God’s foreordination; or ([SLA-]BEQ12/19) foreordination and foreknowledge are NOT the same thing. You can’t eat your cake, sell it, and have it too.

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

BEQ43: In [SLA-]BEQ13/20, you wrote, “Prophecies of the future dealing with free agents and without error do prove foreknowledge.” Please indicate how you could rule out divine foreknowledge for FDR, who declared from the bombing of Pearl Harbor that America would win WWII, asserting on December 8, 1941 that, “the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. …we will gain the inevitable triumph,” even though the decisions and actions of millions of independent humans, including the nations of the world, were required for the eventual fulfillment of FDR’s prophecy. (And I’m not sure if you can find an FDR prophecy which did not come to pass, like Nineveh’s, but if so please indicate how you can know it was not conditional.)

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

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

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

Nathon Detroit

LIFETIME MEMBER
LIFETIME MEMBER
DING - DING -DING

That's it for round number eight.

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

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Nathon Detroit

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

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

Samuel Lamerson

New member
BATTLE ROYALE X
Round 9​

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


Observations

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

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

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

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

Disadvantages

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

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

On Jesus’ “Mistakes”

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

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

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

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


On Jesus’ Divesting Himself of Attributes

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

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

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


On Bob’s Answers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

On Judas and Peter

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

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

Peter

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

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

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

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

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

Judas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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


Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BEQ43: In [SLA-]BEQ13/20, you wrote, “Prophecies of the future dealing with free agents and without error do prove foreknowledge.” Please indicate how you could rule out divine foreknowledge for FDR, who declared from the bombing of Pearl Harbor that America would win WWII, asserting on December 8, 1941 that, “the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. …we will gain the inevitable triumph,” even though the decisions and actions of millions of independent humans, including the nations of the world, were required for the eventual fulfillment of FDR’s prophecy. (And I’m not sure if you can find an FDR prophecy which did not come to pass, like Nineveh’s, but if so please indicate how you can know it was not conditional.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bob Enyart

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Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 9B

Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 9B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions for Sam

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

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

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

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

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

TOL-BRX-Deism-Immutability.jpg


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Bob Enyart
KGOV.com
 

Nathon Detroit

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

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

DING - DING -DING

That's it for round number nine.

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

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

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

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

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Samuel Lamerson

New member
Battle Royale
Round Ten​

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


Apologies

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

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

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

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

Thanks

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

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

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

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


Reminders

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

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

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

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

Arguments

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusions

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

May God’s Love Be With You Always,

Sam Lamerson
 

Bob Enyart

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 10B

Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 10B

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

And thank you Sam!

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

Living, Personal, Relational, Good, and Loving

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

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

Losing on Settled View Terms

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

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

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

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

Dear Knight and Bob,

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

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

Sincerely,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winning on Scriptural Terms

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

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

The proof of openness lies in establishing:

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

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

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

Thus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jehovah’s
Obvious
Nativity
Attributes
Hermeneutic

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

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

New
Openness-
Attributes
Hermeneutic

NOAH resolves conflicting interpretations by selecting those which give precedence to the biblical attributes of God as being living, personal, relational, good, and loving, and by rejecting explanations derived from commitment to the philosophical attributes of God such as omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, impassibility, and immutability.

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

Finishing Business

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

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

Bob Role-Playing Sam

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

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

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

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

BE: 2,000 years?

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

BE: And…?

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

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

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

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

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

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

BE: And…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BE: And why wouldn’t you answer that?

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

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

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

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

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

BE: And FDR?

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

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

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

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

SAMUEL: Yes, I guess. Somehow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

BE: Then why didn’t you answer?

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

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

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

BE: And?

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

BE: So…

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

-Bob Enyart
KGOV.com
 

Nathon Detroit

LIFETIME MEMBER
LIFETIME MEMBER
DING - DING -DING

Battle Royale X is over!


We want to send out a heart felt thank you to both Samuel Lamerson and Bob Enyart.

You can still participate in Battle Royale X and we have two options for you:

1. Battle Talk Thread
In Battle Talk you can debate and discuss Battle Royale X.

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

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