Theology – Calvinism

Bob Utley Prooftexts Immutability

From Bible.org:

This Arabic root means “to breathe heavy” (BDB 636, KB 688, Niphal PERFECT). This is an anthropomorphic metaphor. The root of this word expresses deep feelings (see Robert B. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament, pp. 87-88). The prophet Nahum carries this term in his name. God is often spoken of in the Bible as changing His mind or relenting (cf. v. 6; Gen. 18:22-32; Num. 14:11-20; Josh. 7:6-13; II Kgs. 22:19-20; Ps. 106:45; Jer. 18:1-16; 26:3,13,19; Jonah 3:10). God is affected by (1) our prayers and (2) His character of compassion and love (cf. Exod. 3:7; Jdgs. 2:18; Hosea 11:8-9; Joel 2:13-14; Amos 5:15). However, this should not be understood in the sense that God’s nature or purpose vacillates. It does not change (cf. Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17).

Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17 are all used to override God changing His mind.

Flowers on the Could Should Calvinist Fallacy

Leighton Flowers sums up the Calvinist argument:

1. God tells man they SHOULD keep all the commandments.
2. Man CANNOT keep all the commandments.
3. God also tells man they SHOULD believe and repent for breaking commandments.
4. Therefore man also CANNOT believe and repent for breaking commandments.

He then draws a parallel:

1. Dad tells his kids they SHOULD get to the top of stairs.
2. Kids CANNOT complete this task as requested.
3. Dad also tells the kids they SHOULD ask for help.
4. Therefore the kids CANNOT ask for help.

He then explains the fallacy:

Do you see the problem now? The whole purpose of presenting my kids with that dilemma was to help them to discover their need for help. To suggest that they cannot realize their need and ask for help on the basis that they cannot get to the top of stairs completely undermines the very purpose of the giving them that dilemma.

The purpose of the father in both instances is to get others to trust Him. The law was not sent for the purpose of getting mankind to heaven. Just as the purpose of the activity was not to get the kids to the top of the staircase. The purpose was to help them to see that they have a need and that they cannot do it on their own.

Calvinists have wrongly concluded that because mankind is unable to attain righteousness by works through the law, they must also be equally unable to attain righteousness by grace through faith. In other words, they have concluded that because mankind is incapable of “making it to the top of the stairs,” then they are equally incapable of “recognizing their inability and asking for help.” IT DOES NOT FOLLOW AND IT IS NOT BIBLICAL.

Piper Prays for Family of Five Killed in Car Accident

Audio availible. From the link:

Jamison and Kathryne Pals and their small children were driving from Minneapolis to Colorado for final preparations as missionaries to Japan. They planned to leave in October. But in an interstate construction zone in western Nebraska, a semi truck rear-ended the family’s vehicle.

Tragically, the entire family died at the scene, including Jamison and Kathryne, both 29, and their three young children, 3-year-old Ezra, 23-month-old Violet, and 2-month-old Calvin.

The 53-year-old trucker was arrested and charged with five counts of felony motor vehicle homicide.

And random Calvinists on the internet respond:

Calvinists Respond to Death

A Calvinist Claims God Brings About Sexual Abuse of Children

As pointed out by Evangelical Arminians:

God . . . brings about all things in accordance with his will. In other words, it isn’t just that God manages to turn the evil aspects of our world to good for those who love him; it is rather that he himself brings about these evil aspects for his glory (see Ex. 9:13-16; John 9:3) and his people’s good (see Heb. 12:3-11; James 1:2-4). This includes—as incredible and as unacceptable as it may currently seem—God’s having even brought about the Nazis’ brutality at Birkenau and Auschwitz as well as the terrible killings of Dennis Rader and even the sexual abuse of a young child . . .

— Mark R. Talbot

Podcast EP115 – Pressing On Open Theism 2

In this episode we discuss a Calvinist podcast on Open Theism.

Clip resources:

Divine Impassibility

Apologetics Thursday – Piper on the Book of Life

John Piper writes about being blotted out of the Book of Life:

Being in the book keeps you from doing what would get you erased from the book if you did it.

Notice the inherently tautological nature of this statement. If John, of Revelation, believed as much, why did he not state it? Why did he state it in the way he does, where there is a natural tendency to conclude losing your place in the Book of Life was possible?

And why does Piper ignore the very last warning in the book of Revelation:

Rev 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

People definitely can have a “part” in the Book of Life, and then have that part revoked. That is the normal assumption about the Book of Life, throughout the Bible (the Book of Life is not unique to the Revelation context).

Piper’s theology does not allow for this, so he invents a mechanism in which the author of Revelation is making a claim that can never be actualized. John describes names being removed from the Book of Life, although such a thing could never occur (at least in Piper’s theology). This doesn’t fit the context of the quotes, which are warning people to stay true to God and to refrain from actions that will disqualify them from the Book of Life. Piper, wishing to have his cake and eat it too, admits as much:

Never, never, never be cavalier or trifling about your perseverance. God uses real warnings to keep us vigilant and to keep us persevering. We are safe. But we are not careless. That is the point.

But Piper’s conclusions run counter to his theology.

A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 6

Martyn McGeown writes:

Scripture knows nothing of a god who is infinitely resourceful because the unanticipated free choices of his creatures cause him to seek alternative routes to accomplish his ever changing purposes.

This is an interesting claim. The entire Bible is repeat with averted plans of God and even God explicitly saying He will change what He thinks and plans to do in response to man.

The central promise of the Old Testament even stands in stark contrast to McGeown’s claim. In Genesis 26, God gives Abraham an unconditional promise:

Gen 26:4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,

Throughout the Bible, this promise is treated as unconditional to the extent that in Malachi 3:6 God states that without the promise He would have killed all of Israel by that time. God’s contingency actions to fulfill this promise appear throughout the Bible and are even sometimes averted through human intervention. In Exodus 32 is one such instance.

In Exodus 32, God wants to kill all of Israel. But this would destroy His promise to Abraham (cutting off all of Abraham’s seed). But God has a solution: He will kill everyone except Moses. Moses could restart the promise of Abraham:

Exo 32:10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

God never is left alone. God never is left to burn in His wrath. God never consumes Israel. Luckily for Israel’s sake, God’s plan to kill all of Israel except for Moses is averted. Moses convinces God not to destroy Israel. Moses threatens suicide (death). Moses gives a list of reasons. Moses appeals to God’s promise and to God’s public relations image. God repents and Israel is spared.

Throughout the Bible, there is often talk about a “remnant” coupled with talk of divine punishment. When Israel is to be punished, always a select few are to be saved in order to continue on the promise. In the New Testament, Paul takes this talk of a remnant, and claims that the Gentiles are being grafted into the remnant to fulfill the promise:

Rom 11:2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?
Rom 11:3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.”
Rom 11:4 But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”
Rom 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.

Rom 11:11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.
Rom 11:12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

This is heavy news for the Jews. To Paul, the promise of Abraham’s heirs is being fulfilled by Gentiles because of the unbelief of the Jews. This is God exercising a contingency plan. Also, interestingly enough, the purpose is to “provoke the Jews to jealousy”.

John the Baptist also explains how God could fulfill His unilateral promise to Abraham. Even if God killed every Jew alive, God could spring up new sons of Abraham from the rocks:

Mat 3:8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,
Mat 3:9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

In other words, the Jews should not be confident that God’s promise will save them for the sake of the promise. God is resourceful and will find a way to fulfill the promise even if rejected by every Jew ever. To John, God will create new Jews. To Paul, God will graft in the Gentiles.

There are plenty more references to God navigating this promise in light of Israel’s actions, but this should suffice. Other examples of God’s resourcefulness in response to human behavior is finding a new king when God regrets choosing Saul, God building a cascading contingency plan to convince Israel of His power in Exodus 4 (even this contingency plan fails and God is forced to work unilaterally without the support of Israel), God forcing Nebuchadnezzar into a frenzy in order to subjugate him, God corralling a fleeing prophet in Jonah, God revoking His promise to destroy Nineveh once the people repent, God changing His promise of a priesthood once He encounters evil priests, and so on. The story of the Bible is a story of God acting, and acting in response to human acts, always changing and always modifying His plans.

As Biblical scholar, Christine Hayes states: “The character Yahweh in the Bible changes his mind; it’s just a fact of the text.”

For McGeown to claim otherwise is perplexing.

A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 1 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 2 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 3 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 4 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 5 [link]

A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 5

Martyn McGeown then makes a bad point and a good point:

In addition, a god who cannot predict the future cannot give us an infallible Bible, especially one replete with prophecies of future events. Stephen Wellum writes, “If God is ignorant of vast stretches of forthcoming history, then how can any of the predictive prophecies in Scripture be anything more than mere probabilities?”

What does “infallible” mean to McGeown? The Bible has plenty of time specific prophecies. Several do not come to past (like the prophecy against Nineveh) and some are inaccurate (like the time prophesied for Egyptian slavery or the time prophesied for Babylonian captivity). Timeframes often work like rough estimates in prophesy. This would be expected from the Open Theist perspective, and would render the Bible false in the Calvinist perspective. Prophecy is flexible. God even says that it can be adverted. God can say something or think something, and that something can change.

In this sense, it is true that all prophecy work with probabilities. As discussed earlier, even the crucifixion was not a fixed event, not from the Biblical perspective. In order to claim prophecy is fixed, extra-Biblical standards must be imposed on the text. And those standards are generated by the completely unsubstantiated claims that the future is exhaustively known.

McGeown then turns to omnipotence (another word not used in the Bible except for a vague reference in the book of Revelation):

Open theism rejects God’s omnipotence and replaces it with something called “omnicompetence.”

However much Boyd wants to spin it, the fact is that his god does not “perfectly anticipate” the moves of his creatures. Sometimes, as we have seen with Saul and others, he fails to anticipate what his creatures will do.

The omnicompetent god of open theism has the added attribute of resourcefulness. “Sometimes the desires of God are stymied,” writes Sanders, “but God is resourceful and faithfully works to bring good even out of evil situations.”

McGeown seems to take it as a granted that diminishing what McGeown personally values in sovereignty is some sort of affront to God. He does not refute any arguments, but seems to believe they are self-refuting. In lack of any real arguments against the Open Theistic concept of God’s power and ability, a quote by Roger Olsen will have to suffice to counter McGeown:

There is no “sovereignty” in human experience like the “sovereignty” Calvinists insist we must attribute to God in order “really” to believe in “God’s sovereignty.” In ordinary human language “sovereignty” NEVER means total control of every thought and every intention of every subject. And yet it has become a Calvinist mantra that non-Calvinists “do not believe in God’s sovereignty.” I have a tape of a talk where R. C. Sproul says that Arminians “say they believe in God’s sovereignty” but he goes on to say “there’s precious little sovereignty left” (after Arminians qualify it). And yet he doesn’t admit there (or anywhere I’m aware of) that his own view of God’s sovereignty (which I call divine determinism) is not at all like sovereignty as we ordinarily mean it. That’s like saying of an absolute monarch who doesn’t control every subject’s every thought and intention and every molecule in the universe that he doesn’t really exercise sovereignty. It’s an idiosyncratic notion of “sovereignty.”

A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 1 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 2 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 3 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 4 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 5 [link]

A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 4

Martyn McGeown proceeds to offer two more points against Open Theism: Open Theism wrongly suggests the crucifixion did not have to happen and Open Theism is incompatible with “true substitutionary atonement.” McGeown writes:

This is astounding. Christ’s incarnation was determined but not the cross?…

Sanders misses the point that the only reason why the Son became incarnate was to save the church. If there had been no fall, there would have been no need for the incarnation. And if the cross was not settled until Gethsemane why did Jesus repeatedly prophesy His death and even the means whereby He would die (Matt. 16:21; 20:18-19; John 3:14; 6:51; 10:11; 12:32-33; etc.) and what are we to make of passages such as Isaiah 53 which the New Testament insist were fulfilled at Calvary? God knew exactly, because He had planned exactly, how His Son would lay down His life for His elect (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).

Any claim that the crucifixion could or could not have been avoided should be made on the basis of what the text of the Bible claims. Jesus spends ample time discussing if the crucifixion will happen. We see both statements that the crucifixion is predicted and that it can be avoided. Among Jesus’ statements is Jesus wondering if he should pray to forgo the crucifixion (Joh 12:27), Jesus praying to forgo the crucifixion (Mat 26:39, Mar 14:36, Luk 22:32), and Jesus explaining that God would honor His request to forgo the crucifixion at any time (Mat 26:53). These texts should very much inform the discussion on Jesus’ thoughts on the matter.

This is all in addition to God’s normal operating procedures (where God often changes His mind or even defers to mankind on how to do things). In Ezekiel 4, God commands that Ezekiel bake his food with human dung, Ezekiel objects, and God instantly allows Ezekiel to use cow dung. It does not bother God to change His plans in response to prayer.

McGeown gives a list of passage references that predict that Jesus would die and rise. Something has to be done with the apparent contradiction between McGeown’s texts and the texts in which Jesus shows the crucifixion can be avoided. To McGeown, his passages are taken as absolute; overriding any text that would suggest the crucifixion is not fixed. To the Open Theists, they take the more natural way of solving these discrepancies. Even very strong statements about future events are optional and can be reversed. If I say to my children that there is “no way” that I will give them ice cream because they have been naughty, they still might redeem themselves in some way. I might not think twice about then giving them ice cream after all. My strong statement about the future, as strong as it may be, is still flexible. This is normal in everyday conversation, and the Bible is no different.

In Jeremiah 18, God talks about several reversals that He entertains. He uses strong language about the future in each case. God might “think” He will do something, God might “say” that He will do something, but everything is not fixed in stone (despite what God previously promised):

Jer 18:8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.

Jer 18:10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.

We see this in action as God revokes “eternal” promises:

1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

These examples are given, not to verse trump, but to show how language functions at a basic level. Any secular example would be just as valid. To understand the conflicting verses about the future, using normal speaking conventions (which are used throughout the Bible for the exact same purpose) seems more rational than inventing a strange adherence the absoluteness of future statements. The future is just not absolute and it is not treated as absolute by the Bible. Strong statements often do not materialize for various reasons.

McGeown also believes Open Theism affects views on the atonement:

In addition, open theism makes nonsense of the atonement. A universal atonement which does not save everyone is not a true substitutionary atonement. That is the blasphemy of Arminianism…

This is strange, indeed. McGeown presupposes some obscure, technical, and completely extra-Biblical definition of “atonement”. There are several competing views of the atonement. The atonement debate is held between opponents offering ambiguous verses that well post-date Jesus’ earthly ministry. To be adamant about one particular theory on atonement is strange. To call everyone else “blasphemers” is even stranger. Where is the Biblical precedence for particular views of the atonement to be the indicator between false and true Christians? Or is this just another Greek invention where philosophy trumps the concerns of those who wrote the Bible?

McGeown quotes Ware:

Therefore there could be no actual imputation of our sin to Christ … In fact, Christ would have had reason to wonder, as he hung on that cross, whether for any, or for how many, and for what sins, he was now giving his life. The sin paid for could only be sin in principle, and not sin by imputation, and the people died for was a blurry, impersonal, faceless, nameless, and numberless potential grouping.

These quotes from McGeown and Ware show in what warped mindset they operate. In what way are McGeown and Ware making coherent arguments? If I have a software that I give out for free, who cares if I know how many people will accept that free software. If Bill Gates funds a free ice cream cone for everyone in America, who cares if he knows how many people will eat that ice cream. But McGeown and Ware have a strange fascination with Jesus having to know (by name, date, and type) all sins that will ever occur? Where is the Bible concerned with such things? How does this even work with the fact that Jesus is depicted as learning throughout the gospels and as admitting to not knowing the end times? No doubt, Ware and McGeown would proffer some strange dualism where Jesus divests omniscience yet gets to selectively use it in the gospels when it fits Calvinist theology (apparently Jesus got a burst of omniscience on the cross). In order to save absurdities, more absurdities are invented.

A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 1 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 2 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 3 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 4 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 5 [link]

Apologetics Thursday – Answering Calvin’s Apologists

A Calvinist claims that John Calvin claimed to have opposed killing Servetus. He quotes a book:

Calvin responded to one of his accusers by saying “For what particular act of mine you accuse me of cruelty I am anxious to know. I myself know not that act, unless it be with reference to the death of your great master, Servetus. But that I myself earnestly entreated that he might not be put to death his judges themselves are witnesses, in the number of whom at that time two were his staunch favorites and defenders” (Calvin’s Calvinism Pg. 346)

But this seems to be a mistranslation. From A History of Protestantism:

To Calvin, above all men, we owe it that we are able to rise above the error that misled his age. And when we think, with profound regret, of this one stake planted by Protestant hands, surely we are bound to reflect, with a gratitude not less profound, on the thousands of stakes which the teaching of Calvin has prevented ever being set up. 23We are precluded from hearing Calvin in his own defense, because the death of Servetus was not brought as a charge against him during his lifetime. Still he refers twice to this affair in rebutting general accusations, and it is only fair to hear what he has to say. In his Declaration upon the Errors of Servetus, published a few months after his execution, Calvin says: “I made no entrearies that he might be punished with death, and to what I say, not only will all good people bear witness, but I defy even the wicked to say the contrary.” In 1558 he published his Defence of the Secret Providence of God. The book was translated into English by the Reverend Henry Cole, D.D., of Clare Hall, Cambridge. In that work, pp. 128, 129 (English translation), is the following passage, in which Calvin is appealing to his opponents: – “For what particular act of mine you accuse me of cruelty I am anxious to know. I myself know not, unless it be with reference to the death of your great master, Servetus. But that I myself ernestly entreated that he might not be put to death his judges themselves are witnesses, in the number of whom at that time two were his staunch favorers and defenders.” This would be decisive, did the original fully bear out the English rendering. Calvin’s words are- “Saevitiam meam in quo accuses, audire cupio: nisi forte in magistri tui Serveti morte, pro quo tamen me fuisse deprecatum testes sunt ipsi judices, ex quorum numero tunc duo erant strenui ejus patroni.” (Opp. Calvini, vol. 8, p. 646.) The construction of the words, we think, requires that the important clause should be read thus-I myself know not that act, unless it be with reference to your master, Servetus, for whom I myself earnestly interceded, as his judges themselves are witnesses, etc. If Calvin had said that he earnestly entreated that Servetus should not be put to death, we should have been compelled to believe he had changed his mind at the last moment. But we do not think his words imply this. As we read them they perfectly agree wit all the facts. Now that M. Rilliet de Candolle has published the whole process, the following propositions are undeniable:-1. That Calvin wished for a capital sentence: he had intimated this as early as 1546 in his letter to Farel. 2. That when the time came the Council of Geneva had taken both the ecclesiastical and civil power into their own hands. 3. That the part Calvin acted was simply his statutory duty. 4. Thathe had no power either to condemn or save Servetus. 5. That the only party in Christendom that wished an acquittal were the Libertines. 6. That their object was the overthrow of the Reformation in Geneva. 7. That the sentence of the Council was grounded mainly on the political and social consequences of Servetus’’ teaching. 8. That Calvin labored to substitute decapitation for burning.

Calvin’s Full Quote of God’s Baby Talk

From Institutes of the Christian Religion (iii.xiv):

1. The doctrine of Scripture concerning the immensity and the spirituality of the essence of God, should have the effect not only of dissipating the wild dreams of the vulgar, but also of refuting the subtleties of a profane philosophy. One of the ancients thought he spake shrewdly when he said that everything we see and everything we do not see is God (Senec. Praef. lib. 1 Quaest. Nat.) In this way he fancied that the Divinity was transfused into every separate portion of the world. But although God, in order to keep us within the bounds of soberness, treats sparingly of his essence, still, by the two attributes which I have mentioned, he at once suppresses all gross imaginations, and checks the audacity of the human mind. His immensity surely ought to deter us from measuring him by our sense, while his spiritual nature forbids us to indulge in carnal or earthly speculation concerning him. With the same view he frequently represents heaven as his dwelling-place. It is true, indeed, that as he is incomprehensible, he fills the earth also, but knowing that our minds are heavy and grovel on the earth, he raises us above the worlds that he may shake off our sluggishness and inactivity. And here we have a refutation of the error of the Manichees, who, by adopting two first principles, made the devil almost the equal of God. This, assuredly, was both to destroy his unity and restrict his immensity. Their attempt to pervert certain passages of Scripture proved their shameful ignorance, as the very nature of the error did their monstrous infatuation. The Anthropomorphites also, who dreamed of a corporeal God, because mouth, ears, eyes, hands, and feet, are often ascribed to him in Scripture, are easily refuted. For who is so devoid of intellect as not to understand that God, in so speaking, lisps with us as nurses are wont to do with little children? Such modes of expression, therefore, do not so much express what kind of a being God is, as accommodate the knowledge of him to our feebleness. In doing so, he must, of course, stoop far below his proper height.

Questions Answered – Do Calvinists Believe in Myths?

By Christopher Fisher
An Open Theist comments on a rough draft of my new book:

Though I think I understand your definition of “anthropomorphism” as fable or myth, I do not believe I have ever met a Calvinist who believed he was arguing that texts about God’s changing His mind (etc.) were fables about some non-existent, mythical, fictional character called “God.” They were always using the definition according to what I see the dictionary defintion to be, that of ascribing human characteristics to something (some real object or animal) that does not actually have those characteristics. When I say the “head” or “foot” of the bed, I do not believe, or even want to imply, that the bed does not exist. I am simply trying to communicate something about the bed that is easier to say than “the place where your head would be,” or “the place your foot would be if you were to lie down on the bed” (in the normal fashion, of course).

Now, maybe these Calvinists and I are using “metaphor,” or “personification,” and mistakenly calling it an anthropomorphism, but I never thought it would be appropriate to accuse them of saying God was a myth, or a fable. And, as far as I know, they were not trying to say that.

It seems to me that for way too long Arminians have been too generous with Calvinistic theology, theology which strips God of all emotion. These Calvinists blanketly qualify everything about God as anthropomorphism. But an anthropomorphism is a fictional framing device, not a metaphor or personification (in which one thing stands for another).

When Yahweh walks in the Garden of Eden, some Calvinists would claim this is an event that never happened. When God proclaims (to no one in particular that He regrets making man), when Abraham reasons with God, when Moses coerces God, when God repents to Samuel, when Jonah argues to God, when Ezekiel asks for one small change in God’s command (Eze 4)… they would frame these dialogues as never having happened. The dialogues only work under the assumption that the future is not set and that mankind can influence God. Did the individuals in the stories (who were talking to God) believe they could not change God’s mind? Did God actually engage in multiple two sided conversations under this impression? Because if the human side was genuine, then God’s side must be as well.

Taking this element (God’s mutability) from these stories robs the story of the core message and does not communicate anything. It literally turns God’s portion of these events into fable. From a narrative in which God sees that mankind has become wicked, then exclaims His regret in making man, then thhow the rabbit lost its taile narrator saying that He regrets making man, then God destroying the whole earth in an act commensurate with repentance… the audience is left with God not changing but destroying the Earth (no motivations, emotions, are left). How is this different from the flood myths around the world which explain why the flood happened? How is this materially different from the myth of Persephone in the Greek religion, a myth that explains why the seasons change? How is this different from the South American myth explaining how the rabbit lost its tail? In each of these myths, reality is explained with fictional stories. They are all myths. And when the Calvinist strips out God’s reasoning, dialogue, and actions, they are making stories about God into myth.

Calvinist Defends Impassibility

From Mere Orthodoxy:

Not a Rock – Critics often contend that the doctrine of impassibility depicts God as an emotionless rock. But to teach that God is impassible is not to deny that God has an emotional life with cares, joys, loves, and so forth. Impassibility does not mean impassivity any more than immutability means immobility. Both are caricatures and misunderstandings of the classical doctrine. Just as the doctrine of God’s immutability or changelessness is not a teaching about a static, stone God, but a God so perfectly overflowing with life that any “change” could only tend towards a lesser state, so the doctrine of impassibility is statement about the perfection of God’s emotional life, his sovereignty over it, rather than its absence. In the early Fathers, to teach that God was impassible was to teach that God did not have “passions”, or unrestrained feelings ungoverned by reason or will that could simply sweep over him. A passion was thought of as a sort of violent, semi-physical force that could move a person without the consent of their reason or will. To deny that this can happen is to say that God’s emotional life is under his own control and will not erupt violently in irrational or sinful ways. In other words, God is not an emotional teenager.

Apologetics Thursday – Calvinist Fallacies

These following fallacies are common Calvinistic fallacies. This list is not meant to be taken that non-Calvinists do not often fall for these fallacies, but that these fallacies are ones often encountered in debates with Calvinists.

Moralistic fallacy

What it is:

The moralistic fallacy is the informal fallacy of assuming that whichever aspect of nature which has socially unpleasant consequences cannot exist. Its typical form is “if X were true, then it would happen that Z!”, where Z is a morally, socially or politically undesirable thing. What should be moral is assumed a priori to also be naturally occurring.

Where Calvinists use it:

Everywhere and always. Open Theism is wrong because it presents a new understanding of omniscience. Open Theism is wrong because God then would not be “sovereign”. Open Theism is wrong because if the future is open the Satan might win. Open Theism is wrong because then God would sometimes be “wrong”.

This article “refuting” Open Theism relies primarily on the Moralistic Fallacy: link

The Motte and Bailey Argument

What it is:

The writers of the paper compare this to a form of medieval castle, where there would be a field of desirable and economically productive land called a bailey, and a big ugly tower in the middle called the motte. If you were a medieval lord, you would do most of your economic activity in the bailey and get rich. If an enemy approached, you would retreat to the motte and rain down arrows on the enemy until they gave up and went away. Then you would go back to the bailey, which is the place you wanted to be all along.

Source

The idea is that an arguer makes an absurd claim that is not defensible. When pressed, they retreat to a more defensible position. If they win that, the again continue claiming the original absurd claim.

Where we see it:

Any time Calvinists claim that God controls everything or that God knows everything in the future. They may retreat to attempting to prove God controlled one thing or that God knew one thing in the future.

Here is one Calvinist claiming that the case of Joseph proves God’s control of all things:

The Worst Argument in the World

What it is:

I declare the Worst Argument In The World to be this: “X is in a category whose archetypal member gives us a certain emotional reaction. Therefore, we should apply that emotional reaction to X, even though it is not a central category member.” Source

Where wematt-slick-worst-argument-in-the-world see it:

When Calvinists want to call the God of Open Theism “ignorant” or “makes mistakes”. The fallacy comes because usually people that “know quite a lot” or even know “everything everywhere” would not be conventionally called “ignorant” even if they might somehow technically fit the definition. Likewise, here is Matt Slick making the Worst Argument in the World when trying to get an Open Theist to say God makes mistakes: link

RC Sproul Recounts How He Became a Calvinist

RC Sproul attributes it to Romans 9:

The combination was too much for me. Gerstner, Edwards, the New Testament professor, and above all the Apostle Paul, were too formidable a team for me to withstand. The ninth chapter of Romans was the clincher. I simply could find no way to avoid the Apostle’s teaching in that chapter. Reluctantly, I sighed and surrendered, but with my head, not my heart. “OK, I believe this stuff, but I don’t have to like it!”

Berkhof on Incommunicable Attributes

Calvinist Louis Berkhof explains the difference between incommunicable and communicable attributes:

4. The most common distinction is that between incommunicable and communicable attributes. The former are those to which there is nothing analogous in the creature, as aseity, simplicity, immensity, etc.; the latter those to which the properties of the human spirit bear some analogy, as power, goodness, mercy, righteousness, etc. This distinction found no favor with the Lutherans, but has always been rather popular in Reformed circles, and is found in such representative works as those of the Leyden Professors,[ Synopsis Purioris Theologiae.] Mastricht and Turretin. It was felt from the very beginning, however, that the distinction was untenable without further qualification, since from one point of view every attribute may be called communicable. None of the divine perfections are communicable in the infinite perfection in which they exist in God, and at the same time there are faint traces in man even of the so-called incommunicable attributes of God. Among more recent Reformed theologians there is a tendency to discard this distinction in favor of some other divisions. Dick, Shedd, and Vos retain the old division. Kuyper expresses himself as dissatisfied with it, and yet reproduces it in his virtutes per antithesin and virtutes per synthesin; and Bavinck, after following another order in the first edition of his Dogmatics, returns to it in the second edition. Honig prefers to follow the division given by Bavinck in his first edition. And, finally, the Hodges, H. B. Smith, and Thornwell follow a division suggested by the Westminster Catechism. However, the classification of the attributes under two main heads, as found in the distinction under consideration, is really inherent in all the other divisions, so that they are all subject to the objection that they apparently divide the Being of God into two parts, that first God as He is in Himself, God as the absolute Being, is discussed, and then God as He is related to His creatures, God as a personal Being. It may be said that such a treatment does not result in a unitary and harmonious conception of the divine attributes. This difficulty may be obviated, however, by having it clearly understood that the two classes of attributes named are not strictly co-ordinate, but that the attributes belonging to the first class qualify all those belonging to the second class, so that it can be said that God is one, absolute, unchangeable and infinite in His knowledge and wisdom, His goodness and love, His grace and mercy, His righteousness and holiness. If we bear this in mind, and also remember that none of the attributes of God are incommunicable in the sense that there is no trace of them in man, and that none of them are communicable in the sense that they are found in man as they are found in God, we see no reason why we should depart from the old division which has become so familiar in Reformed theology. For practical reasons it seems more desirable to retain it.

Berkhof, Louis (2014-02-23). Systematic Theology (Kindle Locations 1102-1123). . Kindle Edition.

Apologetics Thursday – Ware’s Narrative of 1 Sam 15

From Bruce Ware’s Their God is Too Small: Open Theism and the Undermining of Confidence in God:

He is God, not man, and as God, he is above any “regret” in this strong sense (v. 29). But second, just because God does not ever question what is happening (since he knew it all previously), we should not conclude that he doesn’t care about the sin that unfolds. He does! He is deeply dismayed at what Saul does as he witnesses the unfolding of what he previously knew would occur. And as God observes Saul’s sin, he bemoans the disobedience and harm that Saul’s actions reflect. So, he “regrets” (in a weak sense) Saul’s king-ship, even though he knew and planned all along what is actually transpiring.

The first thing to notice about this quote is that Ware rewrites the narrative of 1 Samuel 15. Just by reading the story, a casual reader will not walk away with the understanding that Ware presents.

In the first few verses of 1 Samuel 15, God commands Saul to kill the Amalekites. Saul does so but spares the livestock and the king. God then says He regrets making Saul king. If the author had any notion that this rebellion was “foreknown” this would be the time to mention something, anything. But the author has God responding to events as they unfold. God regrets and regrets without apology or qualification.

Samuel then confronts Saul as says because Saul has rejected God that God rejects Saul. Samuel also says that day God has torn the kingdom from Saul. Saul reigns another 18 years after this, so it should be obvious that God decides to tear the kingdom from Saul once He sees Saul rebel in this chapter. Over this, Samuel says that God is not a man that He should repent. The narrative then says that God repents of making Saul king.

Ware plays coy when he does not address the very obvious fact that Samuel’s words are limited to the context of God giving Saul back the kingdom. Both God and the narrator are clear that God has repented, and God seeks out David as evidence of this repentance. The repentance is crucial to the narrative, whereas Ware’s understanding of immutability invalidates the narrative. Ware discounts both the narrator and God’s own words in favor of an idiosyncratic understanding of Samuel’s words.

Calvinist Advice to Absuive Marriages

John Piper responds to the question: What should a wife’s submission to her husband look like if he’s an abuser?

Part of that answer’s clearly going to depend on what kind of abuse we’re dealing with here . . . .

If this man, for example, is calling her to engage in abusive acts willingly – group sex, or something really weird, bizarre, harmful, that clearly would be sin. Then the way she submits – and I really think this is possible, it’s kind of paradoxical [sic]. She’s not going to go there. I’m saying no, she’s not going to do what Jesus would disapprove [sic], even though the husband is asking her to do it.

She’s going to say, however, something like, “Honey, I want so much to follow you as my leader. I think God calls me to do that, and I would love to do that. It would be sweet to me if I could enjoy your leadership.” And so – then she would say – “But if you would ask me to do this, require this of me, then I can’t – I can’t go there.”

Now that’s one kind of situation. Just a word on the other kind. If it’s not requiring her to sin, but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.

Text copied from this site. Video on this site.

Ware on Immutability

Calvinist Bruce Ware talks about immutability:

Through much of the history of the church, God has also been understood as absolutely immutable in every respect. After all, it was often reasoned , if God can change, then that changeability must indicate a change for the better or a change for the worse. But if for the better, then he was not God before; and if for the worse, then he no longer can rightly be conceived as God.

Ware, Bruce (2008-05-15). Perspectives on the Doctrine of God (p. 90). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Psalms 139:16 – Not a Calvinist Prooftext

Reprinted in full from Will the Real God Step Forward:

Psalm 139:16

New International Version (NIV)
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

JPS Hebrew-English TANAKH
16:Your eyes saw my unformed limbs;
they were all recorded in your book;
in due time they were formed to the very last one of them.

This is the same verse as depicted in two very different translations. The NIV translates the verse as the “days” were formed and written before one of the “days” came to be. The JPS says the “unformed limbs” were formed and written before the “unformed limbs” became fully formed. The NIV uses the term “days” as the subject of the sentence clauses, the JPS uses the term “days” as an adverb; all these things happen in the days the limbs were being formed.

Although the Hebrew is not straightforward, the NIV leaves room for only one interpretation. In this version, the word “days” is the subject of all three clauses: the days “were ordained”, “were written” before “one them came to be”. As is often the case, this translation is used as a proof text for predestination and foreordination. It is claimed that God has predestined the days of every individual’s life. This has been the theme of too many Calvinist commentators who subordinate biblical exegesis to theology:

Foreordination in general cannot rest on foreknowledge; for only that which is certain can be foreknown…His foreknowledge of what is yet to be, whether it be in regard to the world as a whole or in regard to the, detailed life of every individual, rests upon His pre-arranged plan (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:14-16; Job 23:13, 14; 28:26, 27; Amos 3:7).

Boettner, Lorraine. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1966(p. 74)

The translation committee of the NIV was heavily weighted with Calvinist sympathizers. The lead translator was Edwin H. Palmer, who had died in 1980 served as executive secretary of CBT, as coordinator of all translation work on the NIV, and as the first general editor of The NIV Study Bible. Dr. Palmer was a pastor of Christian Reformed Churches and an Instructor in Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary (1960–1964). He wrote two books, one of which was The Five Points of Calvinism.

But as the JPS translations indicates, this is a poor prooftext for the Calvinist’s point. There is a better competing translation to the translation offered by the NIV. Although many if not most Calvinists accept Psalm 139:16 as a proof text for predestination, Calvin himself would agree with the JPS translation that the Hebrew uses “days” in an adverbial sense:

PSALM 139

16. …Interpreters are not agreed as to the second clause. Some read ימים, yamim, in the nominative case, when days were made; the sense being, according to them — All my bones were written in thy book, O God! from the beginning of the world, when days were first formed by thee, and when as yet none of them actually existed. The other is the more natural meaning, That the different parts of the human body are formed in a succession of time; for in the first germ there is no arrangement of parts, or proportion of members, but it is developed, and takes its peculiar form progressively.

Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 12: Psalms, Part V, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com Psalm 139

Calvin does not go into detail why he thinks “days” should be translated adverbial but I propose three reasons: the common adverbial use of the word “days” transliterated yā·mîm in the Old Testament, the context of Psalm 139, and the description of the use of yā·mîm as an adverb by a grammarian. It cannot be emphasized enough; this idea is supported by one very important grammarian: John Calvin.

The Hebrew word for days in Psalm 139:16 is transliterated yā·mîm (Hebrew יָמִ֑ים) is used 269 times in the Old Testament. It is used nominatively or accusatively, as the subject or the direct object of the verb, fewer than 45 times. (Amos 9:13 Behold the days are coming) Most of the other uses are adverbial uses of noun, what often is referred to as the genitive case.  (Genesis 8:12 So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove) It is admitted that “days” is a noun, the question is how is the word “days” used in the sentence; as the subject of the verb or the object of the verb or as an indicator of the duration of the action.

Most of the 269 times are adverbial uses of yā·mîm. In many cases as in Genesis 8:12 “seven days” just appears as a noun without a preposition or other indicator of adverbial use. In the English it is common to put a preposition before a noun to indicate the adverbial use of the noun. For example “we sleep at night.” The preposition “at” helps us to understand the noun “night” is being used adverbially in the sentence describing when we sleep.

In comparison to Psalm 139:16, in Genesis 24:55 there is a close equivalent use of yā·mîm. There is no preposition or adjective qualifying “days” the word just appears in the sentence. The reason the word few is in parenthesis is the translators have to supply an adjective to make the English understood. It is not common in English to use the accusative or nominative “days” alone in the sentence. But this is common in Hebrew.

Genesis 24:55 (NKJV) But her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman stay with us a few days, at least ten; after that she may go.”

The word “days” is being used adverbially.  The subject of the sentence is not “days” but “the young woman.”  This common adverbial use of “days” is in Psalm 139:16.

Many translators have chosen to use the word “days” in Psalm 139:16 as the subject of the word form. (NKJ, NIV ESV, NASB, ASV, Douey-Rheims).  Other translators have used the word “days” as an adverb in the sentence.  (KJV, JPS, AKJV, ERV, Jubilee, Webster) Syntactical adverbial use of the word “days” describes the length of the activity of the main verb.   This form of the word “days” transliterated yā·mîm is used 269 in the Old Testament, and the overwhelming syntactical use is adverbial. (over 240 times)  In fact, placing yā·mîm at the end of the clause “all of them (unformed limbs) were being written,” and at the beginning of the clause “they (unformed limbs) were being formed” is a clever use of the adverb “in the days” complementing the imperfect forms “were being written” and “were being formed,” and at the same time providing a common link between the two clauses.  The formation of the unformed limbs was occurring in the same days God was seeing and writing down the event.

Another common indicator of meaning is context. There are three pronouns in Psalm 139:16. What are the antecedents of these pronouns?  The NIV translators thought the three pronouns should refer to “words.”
Psalm 139:16 NIV
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
 all the days (they) ordained for me (they)were written in your book
 before one of them (them) came to be.

The “JPS Hebrew-English TANAKH” translators thought the three pronouns should refer to “unformed limbs.”

Psalm 139:16 JPS
Your eyes saw my unformed limbs; they were all record in your book; in due time they were formed to the very last one of them.

In the Hebrew, the first clause is “(they)were written in your book.”  The word days comes after the first clause. The first use of the pronoun “they” is before the word “days” is even used. This would be very unusual because pronouns are used to avoid boring and redundant use of nouns. In order to be boring and redundant, these nouns would have to be used prior to the pronoun.

In fact the “unformed limbs” seems to the whole topic of the preceding three verses. These unformed limbs are mentioned as; my inward parts, me in my mother’s womb, my frame. The whole context is David as an unformed fetus before he was born. . Certainly context in verses 13-16 shows at least five references to the unformed limbs being formed.

Psalm 139:13-18 New King James Version (NKJV)
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[a]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

It is most likely the reference to “all of them” is David’s unformed limbs. This is supported by the King James version which says, and in thy book all my members were written. In fact the King James version used “days” adverbially and uses “unformed limbs” as the antecedent of the pronouns in the sentences.

Psalm 139:16 (KJV)
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

The word for unformed substance is used as the subject and object of the prepositions. (“my members” were written, they were fashioned, and there were none of them.) The phrase (in continuance) is a translation of the Hebrew word “days.” This is an adverbial use of “days.”

The following is a lengthy quote from perhaps the most famous Hebrew grammarian. Gesenius affirms the use of nouns as adverbs in the sentence. There is not real distinction morphologically between nouns used in the accusative vs the nominative in the Hebrew. As a grammarian he would categorize this noun as an accusative noun, although he admits this is the adverbial syntactical use (genitive case) of Hebrew language. He actually uses a form of “day” in the Hebrew as an example of “day” used as an adverb.

 (b) Substantives in the accusative (the adverbial case of the Semites, § 118 m), cf. τὴν ἀρχήν, δωρεάν, e. g. מְאֹד (might) very, אֶ פֶ֫ס (cessation) no more, הַיּוֹם (the day) today (cf. § 126 b), 1מָחָר to-morrow, יַ חַ֫ד (union) together. Several of these continued to be used, though rarely, as substantives, e. g. סָבִיב , plur. סְבִיבִים and סְבִיבוֹת , circuit, as adverb circum, around; others have quite ceased to be so used, e. g. כְּבָר (length) long ago [Aram.: only in Ec.]; עוֹד (repetition, duration) again or further.

Gesenius, W., E.Kautzsch & A.E. Cowley (ed.), Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910), 270. (§ 100. Adverbs.2.(b))

The grammarians agree, it is possible to use the word “days” in the adverbial sense.  The overwhelming use of the word day (Hebrew yā·mîm) is in the adverbial sense.  Why does the NIV insist on using days as the subject and not as an adverb?

Are the commentators guided by exegesis or by theology? If the JPS translation is correct then this is not a proof text of the Calvinist eternal now. In the eternal now, God exists outside of time and sees every detail of the future outside of the limitation of time. The JPS translation leaves room for God seeing the development of the unformed fetus in real time as the event happens.

If one were to examine the literal Hebrew translation in the same word order, it would look like this:

The Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC)

16 גָּלְמִ֤י׀ רָ֘א֤וּ עֵינֶ֗יךָ וְעַֽל־סִפְרְךָ֮ כֻּלָּ֪ם יִכָּ֫תֵ֥בוּ יָמִ֥ים יֻצָּ֑רוּ ׳וְלֹא׳ ״וְל֖וֹ״ אֶחָ֣ד בָּהֶֽם

My unformed substance, they saw, your eyes, and in your book, all of them, will be written, days, they shall be formed, and not, and him, one in them.

I would like to propose a different translation.

Your eyes saw my unformed substances and they were being recorded in your book, in the days the unformed substances were being formed, and as yet, not one of them was fully formed.

There is no controversy about the first clause (Your eyes saw my unformed substances). It is translated, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance.”

The second clause (and in the days) the word “days” is used adverbially. The pronouns used for the subject of the verbs formed and recorded is unformed substance and not days. The English word “words” (ימים, yamim) is being used syntactically as an adverb. It is referring to the timing of the verb ordain NIV or fashioned NKJV. God is observing the formation of the unformed embryo as it is being formed into a newborn baby.  In the words of John Calvin (the different parts of the human body are formed in a succession of time.) Calvin refers to this translation as the more natural meaning because of the context of Psalm 139.

Another problem of this verse is the tense forms of formed and written. (were being formed, they were being recorded in your book) The Hebrew has two tenses, the imperfect and the perfect. In English we call the imperfect the future and the perfect as the past for convenience. The Hebrew however stresses that the perfect is a completed action and the imperfect is an incompleted action. Every translation I could find translates the verbs in the past tense but the verbal form is imperfect not past.

The Psalmist is putting us into the perspective of God, in the past, when the events were not yet done. Keil and Delitzsch refers to this as the synchronous past.  As God’s eyes saw the embryo being formed into a human being he was recording the events as the embryo is being formed. Naturally to the Calvinist this would be against his theology. A Calvinist believes God decrees or writes in his book the formation of the embryo before the world began. These tense forms of “written” and “formed” should be respected.

There is some confusion about the translation of the last clause but it is probably an elliptical construction. An elliptical construction is the omission of one or more words in a sentence that are understood in the context. God was observing the process of the embryo being formed and as yet not one part was fully formed.

If the meaning were “the days were ordained,”  then God would be injecting some sort of timeless, philosophical, statement in the middle of a discourse about the formation of embryos. The word translated as “fashioned” is transliterated as yatsar, Hebrew יָצַר. It is used 63 times in the Old Testament. It is translated “ordained” by the New King James translators 0 times, King James version 0 times, and the NASB 1 time and the NIV 3 times. “Ordained” implies that God preplanned the event in ages past. The most natural meaning of the word yatsar is to fashion or form.

There is a real problem with the tense of the verbs. The verb for “saw” is in the past tense but the words fashion/ordain and “were written” are in the future tense. The tenses in Hebrew do not necessarily correspond to the English tenses. The past tense refers to completed action and the future tense refers to uncompleted action.  When God was looking at the unformed limbs he recorded them and fashioning them.

Your eyes saw my unformed limbs; they are being recorded in your book; in the days they were being formed to the very last one of them. Why do most translations used the past tense for the these verbs? (all the days ordained for me were written in your book) Keil and Delitzsch perhaps the most respected Hebrew commentary refers to the tenses as follows.

The signification of the future יכּתבוּ is regulated by ראוּ, and becomes, as relating to the synchronous past, scribebantur. The days יצּרוּ, which were already formed, are the subject. It is usually rendered: “the days which had first to be formed.” If יצּרוּ could be equivalent to ייצּרוּ, it would be to be preferred; but this rejection of the praeform. fut. is only allowed in the fut. Piel of the verbs Pe Jod, and that after a Waw convertens, e.g., ויּבּשׁ equals וייבּשׁ,

Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary on Psalms 139:16

The synchronous past is referring to a point of view. The passage starts out with the past “Your eyes saw” and the words which follow are translated with a view as if one was speaking in this past time. Although the verb “is being written” is in the future/uncompleted tense it is referring to the past event “saw.” The timing of the event (is being written) is at the same time as the past tense “saw” making the action of the verb write being in the past. Therefore to match the past tense of “saw” the verb “write” is put into the past tense.

The verb “fashioned” is in the imperfect tense. How is one allowed to translate this verb into the past tense? Keil and Delitzch propose an error in the original manuscript or some alternative, corrupted form of the past tense. This corrupted form is somehow coincidentally the exact form of the future. The argument is unconvincing and too convenient for their goal of supporting their theology which makes their analysis suspect.

Even if one were to accept their methodology does it fit the translation? The action of writing and fashioning, even if they are in the past tense should be no more later that the action of the verb saw. The action of seeing is in the past when the embryo is still being formed. The Calvinist must believe the ordaining/fashioning and the writing are in the remote past at the beginning of time. This will not support the beginning of time contentions of the Calvinist.

Very rarely, do I agree with John Calvin but I have to admire him in this way.  He did not allow his theology to trump the translation of the verse.  In the Hebrew the most common way to indicate duration of time is with a simple noun uncluttered by propositions.
Exodus 20:11 Version (NKJV) For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth

The reason “in” is in italics is because the word “in” is not in the Hebrew.  It is implied by the context.  This is the same construction used in Psalm 139:16.  The noun “words” is not the subject of the sentence.  It is describing the duration of the events “saw” “were writing” and “were forming.”  The most natural meaning of the texts is “in days when.”  This translation allows for a more natural use of tenses of the verbs.  Excuses do not have to be made for translating the tenses away from their natural meaning.  The context is respected.  The context is about the unformed baby.  This is not some theological aberration about the “eternal now” of Plotinus.

What does Psalm 139:16 say?
Your eyes saw my unformed substances and they were being recorded in your book, in the days the unformed substances were being formed, and as yet, not one of them was fully formed.

Apologetics Thrusday – Fisher v Ray debate

fisher v rayFrom a Calvinist Facebook page:

Christopher Fisher

Sovereignty (Calvinism equates “sovereignty” with “meticulous control” although this concept is foreign to any human culture):

  1. If God’s will is always already being done on earth as in heaven (as divine determinism implies) why did Jesus teach his disciples to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?”

Verse: Luk 11:2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

  1. People are tempted by evil. Does God cause this?

Verse: Jas 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

  1. Can God’s appointments be thwarted by man?

Verse: 1Ki 20:42 Then he said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.’ ”

  1. When God “struck” (aka “killed”) the children of Israel, did God’s intended purpose materialize?

Verse: Jer 2:30 In vain have I struck your children; they took no correction; your own sword devoured your prophets like a ravening lion.

  1. In the parable of the potter, does God finish what He started to do?

Verse: Jer 18:4 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.

Omniscience (Calvinism believes God has complete knowledge of all future events):

  1. Does God test people to learn what they will do?

Verse: Deu 13:3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Verse: 2Ch 32:31 However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

  1. Does God ever regret something He did?

Verse: Gen 6:6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

Verse: 1Sa 15:11 “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night.

  1. Does God say He will do something although He knows that He will never do that thing?

Verse: 1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

  1. When the Bible says God “thought to do” something that He does not do, what does “thought to do” mean?

Verse: Jer 18:7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,

Jer 18:8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.

  1. Did God do what He said He would do in Jonah?

Verse: Jon 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Immutability (Calvinism believes God cannot change in any way):

  1. Could God have prevented the evil currently in this world? And if so, how can God be immutable? If no, how can God be omnipotent?

Verse: Jdg 2:20 Then the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice,

Jdg 2:21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died,

Jdg 2:22 so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.”

  1. When God became flesh, was that a change?

Verse: Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Joh 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Timelessness (Calvinism believes God resides outside of “time”):

  1. Does God ever wait patiently and endure up to a breaking point?

Verse: Isa 42:14 “I have held My peace a long time, I have been still and restrained Myself. Now I will cry like a woman in labor, I will pant and gasp at once.

Goodness:

  1. How can a God who cannot lie make specific time-limit prophecies that do not come true when He said they would?

Verse: Jon 3:4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

Verse: 2Ki 20:5 “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD.

2Ki 20:6 And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.” ‘ ”

Jesus (Calvinism believes that Jesus is God except for the part of Jesus that was human):

  1. Was the part of Jesus that was “body” also “Godhead”?

Verse: Col 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

  1. Did Jesus know everything?

Verse: Mar 13:32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

  1. In what way does Jesus resemble an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable, timeless, and simple God?

Verse: Joh 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

  1. If Jesus’ will is the same as God’s will, then why would Jesus say that Jesus’ will would not be done if God’s will is done?

Verse: Luk 22:42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

  1. Could Jesus have been saved from crucifixion by praying to God?

Verse: Mat 26:53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?

Miscellaneous:

  1. Why are the elect the enemy of the gospel?

Verse: Rom 11:28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.

C Ray  You must be addressing those semi-Arminian Calvinists who follow the theology of apparent contradictions and paradox? I can assure you that there are no contradictions in the Bible.

C Ray  It will take me some time to answer all the objections in the post. However, the first objection is so simple even a child can figure it out:

>>>1. If God’s will is always already being done on earth as in heaven (as divine determinism implies) why did Jesus teach his disciples to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?”<<<

If we are praying for God’s will to be done, we are simply agreeing that God controls whatsoever comes to pass. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray according to God’s will. THY will be done. Jesus also prayed that if it were possible that the cup of His suffering would pass, but nevertheless not his human will be done but GOD’S will be done:

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39 NKJ)

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42 NKJ)

God already knows the future because He has already determined it. It was NEVER God’s will that Jesus would NOT go to the cross. Jesus providentially in time said the prayer but God had already by the set foreknowledge of God determined that wicked men, including Judas, Pilate, and Herod, would have him betrayed, tried, convicted and crucified.

“Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; (Acts 2:23 NKJ)

“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. (Acts 4:27-28 NKJ)

C Ray  Why pray if God is unable to determine the future? We don’t know what the future holds. God does because He controls it. Even the day and hour of your death is already determined by God. Hebrews 9:27. Psalm 139.

C Ray  More later:)

C Ray  It is irritating when Arminians flood with several questions instead of sticking to one proposition at a time. Prayer only makes sense if God is sovereign and can actually answer the prayer. God’s answer could be yes or no. But His will shall be done!

C Ray  The more Arminian they are the more they hate the doctrine of predestination.

C Ray  I should point out that the OP is from an Open Theism site. Open Theism is worse than Arminianism because it says that God is ignorant of the future:) Unfortunately, some Arminians, including Roger Olson, think that Open Theism is within the Arminian camp. Ironically, Olson contradicts himself when he also claims that Arminianism is “reformed” theology. If Arminians were more logical, they wouldn’t be Arminians.

C Ray  The same applies to Open Theism. If Open Theism advocates were more logical they wouldn’t believe Open Theism is true.

C Ray  My best shot? My best shot is not mine. It is the Bible:)

The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand: (Isaiah 14:24 NKJ)

Christopher Fisher  1:

///If we are praying for God’s will to be done, we are simply agreeing that God controls whatsoever comes to pass.

That does not work. The text presents a contrast between Heaven and Earth. Why the contrast? In what way is Jesus asking that God’s will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven? If Jesus believed God’s will was being done on Earth, does this make sense? Wouldn’t it have been easier to just say “I agree with your will”. The sentence was not spoken by someone with a Calvinist mindset. That is why the question is so hard for Calvinists to answer. It is a request.

Christopher Fisher Ray 1: The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand: (Isaiah 14:24 NKJ)

Isn’t this about God being capable of doing what He says, not about meticulous control of the future? And isn’t this Isaiah trying to convince Israel that God is powerful, which they do not believe? And if Isaiah were trying to convince the people that God controls everything (something they do no believe) wouldn’t he have worded it extremely different. Isaiah reads like an Open Theist trying to convince a Calvinist that God can actually do what He says.

Christopher Fisher Ray 2: Even the day and hour of your death is already determined by God. Hebrews 9:27. Psalm 139.

Hebrews 9:27, men are appointed to die once means that every person on Earth has a specific appointed day? You are bringing a lot of baggage into that verse. Plus you ignore Hezekiah and God’s judgment of angels in Psalms 82 in which He punishes them with eventual death.

On Psalms 139. Absolutely that is not what Psalms 139 says. “the days that were formed” is an adverbial phrase meaning that over the days that David’s body was forming, the body parts were being written into God’s book. Here is Calvin on the issue:

Some read ימים, yamim, in the nominative case, when days were made; the sense being, according to them — All my bones were written in thy book, O God! from the beginning of the world, when days were first formed by thee, and when as yet none of them actually existed. The other is the more natural meaning, That the different parts of the human body are formed in a succession of time; for in the first germ there is no arrangement of parts, or proportion of members, but it is developed, and takes its peculiar form progressively.

Christopher Fisher All the attached translations agree with John Calvin that Psalms 139 is not about God recording every day of your life but about a series of days in which your body forms in the womb, notice the adverbial phrase:

Geneva Bible: 16 Thine eyes did see me, when I was without forme: for in thy booke were all things written, which in continuance were facioned, when there was none of them before.

The attached picture is the Jewish translation of Psalms 139.

King James Bible

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Jubilee Bible 2000

Thine eyes did see my substance yet being imperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which were then formed, without lacking one of them.

American King James Version

Your eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in your book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

English Revised Version

Thine eyes did see mine unperfect substance, and in thy book were all my members written, which day by day were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

C Ray  I showed you the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane. I guess you don’t believe the Bible.

Christopher Fisher Ray, that is one of the questions. That proves that God’s will does not have to be done and it proves that Jesus and God do not have the same will.

C Ray  That isn’t what Psalm 139 says. It says God is absolutely omniscient, not ignorant. God is not a man;)

Christopher Fisher Ray 2: Ray, was John Calvin wrong when Calvin wrote:

Some read ימים, yamim, in the nominative case, when days were made; the sense being, according to them — All my bones were written in thy book, O God! from the beginning of the world, when days were first formed by thee, and when as yet none of them actually existed. The other is the more natural meaning, That the different parts of the human body are formed in a succession of time; for in the first germ there is no arrangement of parts, or proportion of members, but it is developed, and takes its peculiar form progressively.

C Ray  I am working today. I would ask you to stock to one or two propositions at a time. I will rebut your answers one at a time.

Christopher Fisher Alright, I will keep my responses numbered per your points and will keep my counter points numbered per the original question.

C Ray  Since we do not know the future being limited in knowledge, we do petition God. But why pray to an ignorant and helpless finite god who has no providential control over history, time, or evil?

Christopher Fisher Ray 3: He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39 NKJ)

Doesn’t this verse show us that God’s will does not have to be done (indicated by Jesus’ special asking that God not change His will on Jesus’ account)? Doesn’t this also show that Jesus did not know if it was a possibility, meaning even Jesus was not a Calvinist thinking in terms of immutable divine decrees?

Christopher Fisher Ray 4: But why pray to an ignorant and helpless finite god who has no providential control over history, time, or evil?

If prayer does not affect God. If the future was set and God time (and time again tells Israel that it is not… that He is waiting and pleading for them to change such that He does not have to punish them)… If God was immutable and cold like the stone idols that God despises… If God was timeless and unpersonal, as to make a mockery of the strong emotional highs and lows God ascribes to Himself throughout the Bible… then prayer would be pointless. We would be telling God what He already knows and has decreed. Instead, when God says something, people’s natural inclination is that they can convince God not to do it. Followup question: what was the reason that God decided not to destroy Israel on Mount Sinai?

C Ray  Out of context quotes only prove you are an irrationalist.

Christopher Fisher The Geneva Bible that I quoted to you… is that out of context as well? Seriously, you reject Calvin on this verse as well as good Hebrew scholarship. You are the one not acting rational.

Christopher Fisher Here is something you can do. Write the following: “Chris, I was wrong about Psalms 139:16 being a good prooftext for my view. Calvin himself did not take the verse the way I see it and this is reflected in the Geneva translation. I am too set in my ways to admit when I am clearly wrong and I will attempt to treat valid points with more respect in the future. I promise not to let my ego just lash out when I am thoroughly called out on irrational positions I hold.”

C Ray  Calvin was not infallible. Scripture speaks for itself.

C Ray  Some for afar off read beforehand, in which signification the Hebrew word is elsewhere taken, as if he had said—O Lord, every thought which I conceive in my heart is already known to thee beforehand. But I prefer the other meaning, That God is not confined to heaven, indulging in a state of repose, and indifferent to human concerns, according to the Epicurean idea, and that however far off we may be from him, he is never far off from us.

John Calvin. Psalm 139.

Christopher Fisher So, yes or no. Is Psalms 139:16 a good prooftext that God has planned our entire lives?

C Ray  The Bible clearly says God knows the future and has exhaustive omniscience.

Christopher Fisher Yes or no… was I quoting Calvin “out of context” like you claimed?

Christopher Fisher In the opening link, I mention that Calvinists have a very hard time with yes or no questions. I will try this again:

So, yes or no. Is Psalms 139:16 a good prooftext that God has planned our entire lives?

C Ray  Chris, no. Calvin said what you said he said. But as I said, Scripture is the final authority. Furthermore, I was on my phone earlier. How does it follow logically that Open Theism is true simply because Calvin’s focus was wrong in a few places in his commentaries? Just asking?

C Ray  Chris, let’s try a yes or no question for you. Is God absolutely omniscient? Yes or no?

C Ray  Isaiah 46:9-11 and many other places proves that God is absolutely sovereign and knows exhaustively everything that will happen. Ephesians 1:11 says God ordains all things that come to pass in time.

Christopher Fisher Did I claim Open Theism was true because Calvin interpreted a verse in a non-Calvinist way? No, my point is that your prooftexts, all your prooftexts, do not say what you want them to say. The fact that you admittedly oppose even John Calvin on some verses is very telling about your mindset towards the Bible. You are not interested in reading comprehension, and figuring out various and possibly understandings of texts, but you are looking for affirmation of your platonism. You disregard perfectly reasonable alternative understandings of the text.

Christopher Fisher Ray 5: Chris, let’s try a yes or no question for you. Is God absolutely omniscient? Yes or no?

No.The Bible never makes the claim and neither do I.

C Ray  Calvin also says in the same commentary on Psalm 139:16, “….. it was always one and the same in God’s book, who is not dependent upon time for the execution of his work.” Clearly Calvin’s view does not endorse that God is dependent on time or that God is ignorant of the future.

Christopher Fisher Ray 6: Isaiah 46:9-11 and many other places proves that God is absolutely sovereign

I feel like I am answering more of your questions than you are of mine. Refer back to my earlier question and answer that:

Ray 1: The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand: (Isaiah 14:24 NKJ)

Isn’t this about God being capable of doing what He says, not about meticulous control of the future? And isn’t this Isaiah trying to convince Israel that God is powerful, which they do not believe? And if Isaiah were trying to convince the people that God controls everything (something they do no believe) wouldn’t he have worded it extremely different. Isaiah reads like an Open Theist trying to convince a Calvinist that God can actually do what He says.

C Ray  The Bible does make the claim. And that is because we logically deduce from the Scriptures by good and necessary consequence what the Bible says. There is a system of doctrinal and propositional truth in the Bible and the Scriptures cannot be broken into disparate parts that have no relationship to the other parts of the system of logical and propositional revelation in the Bible. John 10:35.

Christopher Fisher Ray 7: Ephesians 1:11 says God ordains all things that come to pass in time.

Eph 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

Doesn’t perfectly normal reading comprehension allow this to say that God does everything that God does with careful thought. It would be like me saying “I eat everything according to my diet”. No, I do not eat “everything”, but “everything” I do eat is per my diet. And my statement is general, so even if there is slippage (I eat cake once), this does not invalidate my general statement.

C Ray  If God is able to control the future, then it implication is that God DOES control the future. If the universe can run by itself, then the implication by logical deduction and good and necessary consequence is that the universe is indendent of God and therefore there is something that is God’s equal. But that is Platonic dualism and even deism. God is in absolute control of all that happens, otherwise God is not God.

C Ray  If you reject God as defined by Scripture, then you are not a Christian.

Christopher Fisher No, I am going skating today. That is me controlling the future. Wow, I much be omniscient and omnipotent.

C Ray  The Westminster Confession of Faith summarizes the system of dogmatic theology in the Bible.

C Ray  If God foreknows you are going skating today, is it possible you won’t go skating today?

C Ray  Oh, wait. You think your god is ignorant.

C Ray  You have created a little god in your own finite and ignorant image.

C Ray  Vain thinking is vain.

Christopher Fisher So, back to my questions. I am not really interested in non-Biblical metaphysics. In my estimation, you have not answered a single OP question.

1:

///If we are praying for God’s will to be done, we are simply agreeing that God controls whatsoever comes to pass.

That does not work. The text presents a contrast between Heaven and Earth. Why the contrast? In what way is Jesus asking that God’s will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven? If Jesus believed God’s will was being done on Earth, does this make sense? Wouldn’t it have been easier to just say “I agree with your will”. The sentence was not spoken by someone with a Calvinist mindset. That is why the question is so hard for Calvinists to answer. It is a request.

C Ray  You are not interested in what the biblical text says either. And if you are not interested in metaphysics, why read the Bible? The Bible alone is the source of all knowledge, including metaphysics.

Christopher Fisher Ray, in my estimation, I am the only one addressing the text. You allude to Psalms and Hebrews and you do not even use normal reading comprehension to understand them. You assume the text supports you, and I showed that you were wrong. You have zero verses; which verse have you used in which I did not follow up that your understanding was idiosyncratic and unwarranted?

C Ray  Why is there a contrast between the Creator and His creation? Well, the answer to that question is obvious to any Calvinist. It’s because God is eternally a God who possesses aseity by nature and essence. There never was a time when God did not exist and God transcends time, history, and creation. That’s why in God’s omniscient mind there is no passing of time or any passing of one thought to another thought. God is omniscient and never learns anything new–including the future. God knows the future because it is ordained by God’s eternal decree. God never learns anything new by looking foreward to the future.

C Ray  Well, your estimation is wrong because you presuppose a finite god. I presuppose an omniscient God who is also omnipotent and omnipresent. That’s because the Bible also presupposes such a God. All Scripture is inspired by God. God controlled the wills of the men who wrote the Bible and every word they wrote is the very words of God.

C Ray  I am indeed a presuppositionalist. I presuppose there are no errors in the Bible. You presuppose a finite god who does not control the wills of the men who wrote the Bible.

Christopher Fisher That is not rational argument. I am wrong because I do not assume your theology? [ding ding ding] We have a winner of the bad rational thinking award.

C Ray  Chris, well, since you don’t believe God controls men’s wills, it follows that you cannot believe in the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture or the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture.

Christopher Fisher Mat 6:10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Has God’s kingdom come? Is this a request by Jesus for God to bring His kingdom to Earth?

In the same way: “your will be done”. Is this a request by Jesus for God’s will to be done.

“On Earth as it is in Heaven”. Is God’s will currently being done on Earth in the same respect as it is in heaven.

My problem with Calvinism is that it takes clearly absurd readings of normal passages.

C Ray  Well, as I said, the logical implication is that you don’t believe the Bible since you cannot believe God inspired it.

Christopher Fisher Can God’s will be rejected?

Luk 7:30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

C Ray  The Bible alone is God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16. You cannot affirm this verse because for you God is ignorant and finite. But if God is finite, maybe God is evil and cannot do anything about good?

C Ray  Of course the reprobate reject the Gospel:) But they were predestined to do so. That’s not ability. It’s inability.

8 and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. (1Pe 2:8 NKJ)

Christopher Fisher You reject Jesus’s clear teachings. I am sure if we explored Exodus 32, you will reject a host of Biblical authors on the subject. You reject the Psalmist talking about fetology. Only one of us is rejecting the Bible, and that is you.

C Ray  38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”

39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:

40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” (Joh 12:38-40 NKJ)

C Ray  You do not believe because you are not of His sheep:

26 “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. (Joh 10:26 NKJ)

Christopher Fisher This is a yes or no question. Let me remind you that my original claim is that Calvinists are terrible with yes or no questions:

Can God’s will be rejected?

Luk 7:30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

C Ray  Oh, but I do believe the plain teaching of the whole bible in context. How do you think I decided to become a Calvinist? By reading heretical Open Theist scholars?

Christopher Fisher ^And this is boolay… God’s strong will.

boo-lay’

From G1014; volition, that is, (objectively) advice, or (by implication) purpose: – + advise, counsel, will.

Christopher Fisher Can God’s will be rejected?

Luk 7:30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

Christopher Fisher Heb 6:17 uses the same word.

C Ray  I don’t answer yes or no questions. Here’s why? “Did you stop beating your wife?” Answer the question: YES or NO?

Christopher Fisher No, because I never started, therefor there is nothing to stop.

Christopher Fisher Easy… now answer my question.

C Ray  Logical fallacies are irrational and invalid. Asking irrational questions does not entail that the question was legimate.

Christopher Fisher I answered your “impossible question”… now answer mine. The only reason you dont want to answer is that it is clear you reject the Bible:

Can God’s will be rejected?

Luk 7:30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

C Ray  But you didn’t answer with a yes or no. You answered with a qualification. So there’s the reason your debate questions are fallacious. Thanks for demonstrating the fallacy for me:)

Christopher Fisher Your intellectual dishonesty does not make my question a logical fallacy.

Christopher Fisher Then answer my question with a qualification… but say yes or no.

Christopher Fisher The qualification was to ensure you dont misunderstand the answer… it does not invalidate the answer.

C Ray  The reprobate resist God’s will. No Calvinist says otherwise. The reprobate have a will. But the question is whether the will is free or not. The answer is a resounding NO.

Christopher Fisher So… in your estimation… when the text says that the lawyers rejected God’s will, that the lawyers did not. You reject the Bible. Clearly.

C Ray  THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.

Sect. 9.—THIS, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, “Free-will” is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert “Free-will,” must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them. But, however, before I establish this point by any arguments of my own, and by the authority of Scripture, I will first set it forth in your words.

Martin Luther

http://www.truecovenanter.com/trueluth…/luther_bow.html&#8230;

TrueCovenanter.com: The Bondage of the Will

Sect. 9.—T, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, “Free-will” is thrown prostrate, an…

TRUECOVENANTER.COM|BY MARTIN LUTHER

Christopher Fisher Your argument is literally the text does not mean what it says because you have overriding theology.

C Ray  >>>So… in your estimation… when the text says that the lawyers rejected God’s will, that the lawyers did not. You reject the Bible. Clearly.<<<<<

This is so obviously false that it does not need a rebuttal. Obviously if the will is not free, then if the lawyers rejected the commands of God to repent they did so willingly. Where does the Bible say that men do not have a volition? I have not seen such a verse.

C Ray  The reprobate willingly rebel and reject God’s commands.

Christopher Fisher They didnt reject their own will, they rejected God’s will.

Christopher Fisher This discussion is about reading comprehension.

C Ray  7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

(Rom 8:7-8 NKJ)

Christopher Fisher Ok, can God’s will be rejected?

Christopher Fisher And did the lawyers reject God’s will?

Christopher Fisher Your argument is literally the text does not mean what it says because you have overriding theology.

C Ray  Define “will.” Do you mean God’s commands or do you mean God’s decrees?

C Ray  You are equivocating. The term “will” has to be defined. And you are obviously deliberately defining it otherwise from the Word of God:

29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deu 29:29 NKJ)

Christopher Fisher ^ Feel free to define it however is the most favorable to your position. Make it work in both the context of Luk 7 and Heb 6.

Luk_7:30 ButG1161 theG3588 PhariseesG5330 andG2532 lawyersG3544 rejectedG114 theG3588 counselG1012 of GodG2316 againstG1519themselves,G1438 being notG3361 baptizedG907 ofG5259 him.G846

Heb_6:17 WhereinG1722 G3739 God,G2316 willingG1014 more abundantlyG4054 to shewG1925 unto theG3588 heirsG2818 of promiseG1860 theG3588 immutabilityG276 of hisG848 counsel,G1012 confirmedG3315 it by an oath:G3727

C Ray  Do you claim to know everything that God knows in every single detail? If so, then you are claiming to be omniscient. We can only know what God reveals in nature and in the Bible.

Christopher Fisher ^I told you I am not interested in metaphysics. Please ask questions about the Bible and what the Biblical authors believed.

C Ray  My position is God is omniscient. Your position is that your god is finite and ignorant. But can a god who is subject to creation and evil save you? I sincerely doubt it.

Christopher Fisher ^Platonism. Yum. I get my theology from the Bible. Can we discuss Exodus 32 now?

C Ray  You’re not interested in logic? So why are you here? God IS LOGIC. John 1:1. And logic was imparted to all men: John 1:9. Man IS the image of God. Genesis 1:27.

C Ray  If you are admitting that you are an irrationalist, then there is nothing more to discuss. That’s because without logic nothing makes any sense whatsoever.

Christopher Fisher Exo 32:14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

What is the reason that God did not destroy Israel, as Yahweh told Moses that He would?

C Ray  The Bible is not inherently contradictory because God has no contradictions in His mind and it is God who inspired the Bible.

Christopher Fisher Metaphysics is not “logic”. I would give you a rundown on logical propositions, but it will detract from the Bible. I can school you in another thread if you wish.

C Ray  So Exodus 32:14 says that God works providentially in time in ways that we as creatures can understand. So how does that prove your metaphysical assertion that your god is ignorant of the future? I thought you didn’t want to talk about metaphysics? Hello?

Christopher Fisher Exodus 32, what are Moses’ arguments as to why God should not destroy Israel.

C Ray  God already knew that He would relent and the reason is He had already ordained that the people of Israel would repent. Acts 11:18 implies it.

Christopher Fisher At this point, this should be friendly reading comprehension.

Christopher Fisher Here is the text to save you some time:

Exo 32:11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?

Exo 32:12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.

Exo 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'”

Exo 32:14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

C Ray  18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (Act 11:18 NKJ)

Repentance is a gift

Christopher Fisher Yes or no, did Moses argue that God would look bad to the neighboring people? Basically, God should refrain for His own sake and not due to the people’s sake. Did this argument work on convincing God?

C Ray  Chris, so when God speaks to creatures who are subject to time and discursive thinking, how else would God communicate to them in ways that they could understand? They are NOT omniscient. But your error is that you think because creatures need to be talked to on their level that the reverse is true of God and that God is therefore ignorant like men. False conclusion. God is not a man.

C Ray  9 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Num 23:19 NKJ)

Christopher Fisher Calvinists are terrible at yes or no questions. Let us try this again:

Yes or no, did Moses argue that God would look bad to the neighboring people? Basically, God should refrain for His own sake and not due to the people’s sake. Did this argument work on convincing God?

C Ray  Your stupidity is in confusing the creature with the Creator.

Christopher Fisher Yes or no, did Moses argue that God would look bad to the neighboring people? Basically, God should refrain for His own sake and not due to the people’s sake. Did this argument work on convincing God?

C Ray  So did you stop beating your mother? Yes or no?

Christopher Fisher No, because I never started therefor there is nothing to stop.

Christopher Fisher Stop being ridiculous.

Christopher Fisher Yes or no, did Moses argue that God would look bad to the neighboring people? Basically, God should refrain for His own sake and not due to the people’s sake. Did this argument work on convincing God?

C Ray  You will not persist in fallacious arguments here. If you insist on that method, you can go elsewhere. First warning.

C Ray  I am the head admin here. Behave yourself.

Christopher Fisher New question: does God himself claim that God changed His mind for His own sake in this narrative:

Eze 20:8 But they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said, ‘I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.’

Eze 20:9 But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

C Ray  If you cannot argue logically, you will be banned. Scriptural arguments and logic are required here.

Christopher Fisher This is God recounting the Exodus 32 event.

C Ray  Irrationalism and invalid arguments are not permitted. So if you keep attacking the man with abusive ad hominem, then it is a fallacious argument.

Christopher Fisher What does Yahweh say the reason is that He spared Israel?

C Ray  I do not say that God changes His mind because the Bible says that God is eternally immutable. Malachi 3:6 and James 1:17. Psalm 119:89. The anthropomophisms and anthropopathisms in Scripture do not entail that God is a creature or a man. God is defined by metaphysical propositions that are revealed in Scripture and by the logical deductions made from that system of propositional truth by good and necessary consequence. The word Trinity is not in Scripture. But the Bible teaches both the Trinity and the absolute sovereignty of God.

C Ray  Is God ignorant of what Israel would do?

C Ray  Yes or no?

Christopher Fisher What does God say in this text is the reason God did not destroy Israel:

Eze 20:8 But they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said, ‘I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.’

Eze 20:9 But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

C Ray  There are conditional commands in the Bible. If man disobeys, God lays out the consequences. If man obeys, then God rewards the obedience. But it does not follow that God does not ordain what man’s response will be.

C Ray  God could not be God if there is anything that happens apart from His sovereign permission. And if God willingly permits evil, then obviously God willed for the evil to occur since God could easily prevent it.

Christopher Fisher Right, we are not talking about “conditional actions”. It is clear from the text that the only actor is Moses. The people do not repent and God is not reacting to their repentance. God Himself states that He acted for His own sake. God’s change of mind was due, literally, to Moses’ argument that God would look bad if He killed Israel.

Christopher Fisher Here is Moses recounting the event:

Deu 9:13 “Furthermore the LORD spoke to me, saying, ‘I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people.

Deu 9:14 Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.’

Deu 9:19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the LORD was angry with you, to destroy you. But the LORD listened to me at that time also.

Deu 9:20 And the LORD was very angry with Aaron and would have destroyed him; so I prayed for Aaron also at the same time.

Christopher Fisher So, you discount God, you discount Ezekiel, you discount Moses…

Christopher Fisher When you are denying Yaweh’s speech about Himself, you should be afraid.

C Ray  Let me clue you in, Christopher Fisher. I am not just another ignorant plow boy:) I have two degrees in Arminian theology. I did my BA at an Assemblies of God college and my master of divinity at an Evangelical and Wesleyan seminary. I know your arguments better than you do. If you’re not going to answer my objections, you can go elsewhere to talk to thin air. Here you are required to answer my objections as I have answered all of yours thus far.

Christopher Fisher ^Better ask for your money back. What does God say in this text is the reason God did not destroy Israel:

Eze 20:8 But they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said, ‘I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.’

Eze 20:9 But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

C Ray  I do not deny that there are anthropopathisms in Scripture. Does God literally have emotions or body parts? No. And so when the text attributes human qualities to God such as “relenting” it does not literally mean that God repents or changes His mind as humans do.

C Ray  Next question?

C Ray  I will warn you again, Chris, you do not get to ignore me. If you want to preach, go elsewhere. This is a debate forum. I answered you objection several times and you keep repeating misrepresentations of the Calvinism position. Our position is laid out clearly in the Westminster Standards. So why do you keep creating straw man fallacies?

C Ray  The idea that men do not have a will is refuted several times over in the WCF.

Christopher Fisher Read the text, answer the question, then you can explain the question. I will provide you a copy paste version for your convenience:

“God says in the text that He did not destroy Israel and this was for His own sake lest His name is profaned among the Gentiles. I believe this is an anthropopathism. ”

What does God say in this text is the reason God did not destroy Israel:

Eze 20:8 But they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said, ‘I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.’

Eze 20:9 But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

C Ray  Chapter 3: Of God’s Eternal Decree

  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:1 yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,2 nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.3

See also: WLC 12 | WSC 7

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1 Eph. 1:11; Rom. 11:33; Heb. 6:17; Rom. 9:15,18.

2 James 1:13,17; 1 John 1:5.

3 Acts 2:23; Matt. 17:12; Acts 4:27,28; John 19:11; Prov. 16:33.

Christopher Fisher Ask your question, I will answer:

Christopher Fisher And, for the record, I have been answering almost all your objections. I even labelled them. You have not hardly answered any of my objections.

C Ray  The reason God did not destroy Israel is stated in the text. But simply quoting a text does not prove your deduction from the text is correct. That’s because plenty of other texts prove that God is not finite. Your error is in confusing God with the creature and ignoring what are clearly anthropomorphisms. We do not attribute human qualities to God just because God relates to humans in anthropomorphic or anthropopathic terms in Scripture. God does not literally have a nose or mouth or emotions. Nor does God literally repent or even relent. Those are clearly anthropopathic terms. God is totally distinct from creation and cannot literally repent because God is eternally unchanging. If God changes, then He is not God but something else.

C Ray  You have not answered my objection that your view confuses the Creator with anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms in Scripture. Does God literally smell or taste?

C Ray  Does God literally “breathe”????

7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Gen 2:7 NKJ)

Christopher Fisher Anthropomorphisms, like your describe, are alien to normal reading comprehension. They are a mechanism invented such that Calvinists can deny the Bible. There is no hint in the narratives that the narratives are to be discounted, and the authors show zero familiarity with immutability, omniscience, etc.

C Ray  So you agree with the Mormons that God has a body? Oh, brother!

Christopher Fisher R8: Does God literally “breathe”????

Maybe. Jesus breathed. God can cause wind movement which is breathe. The Bible is not clear on God’s physical properties, so maybe is the best answer.

C Ray  Maybe you think God loses His temper, too?

Christopher Fisher Ray, do you understand the difference between metaphor and Anthropomorphism?

C Ray  God has no physical properties! God is a spirit:

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24 NKJ)

C Ray  Act 17:24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.

C Ray  18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. (Act 15:18 KJV)

C Ray  Looks like God is not ignorant after all.

Christopher Fisher Metaphor is using two similar concepts, one to illustrate the other. A King might have a “hand of the King”. This is not literal, but symbollic (this doesnt mean he doesnt have a hand either). But symbols have meaning. Your Anthropomorphism does not have a meaning. What does it mean that God says that He repents for His own sake that the pagan nations will not think of Him poorly? You want to dismiss the text and have to resort to some any-text mechanism to do so.

And note: spirits have bodies:

1Co 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.

1Co 15:43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.

1Co 15:44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

C Ray  Chris, I thought you said God literally relented? Now you’re saying it is a metaphor? Behind every metaphor in the Bible is a logical proposition.

Christopher Fisher No, nowhere do I say it is a metaphor.

Christopher Fisher Im explaining to you Language 101.. the difference between metaphor and anthropomorphism as you use it. Ezekiel and Exodus do not fit a metaphor.

C Ray  A metaphor can relate to anything symbolic. An anthropomorphism is attributing human characteristics to something that is not human. Dogs can be attributed with human characteristics such as thoughts and emotions. But are dogs humans? No. Dogs don’t think. In the same way we can attribute human characteristics to God so we can understand and relate to Him. But it does not follow that God is a man any more than it follows that a dog is a man. God is defined by the propositions and attributes given Him in the Scriptures.

C Ray  God is from everlasting to everlasting. He is not a man who is born and then dies.

Christopher Fisher There is nothing in the text and there is no figure of speech that explains away what is described. God saying that He repents for His own sake that the pagan nations will not think of Him poorly… this is not a concept to be pasted to a real concept in an informing way.

C Ray  2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (Psa 90:2 NKJ)

Christopher Fisher Anthropomorphism are fiction: The Brave Little Toaster. Disney Cars.

C Ray  Well, since you keep saying God is a man, you are therefore an heretic who does not believe the Bible. Anthropomorphisms do not make God a creature or a man. Sorry.

Christopher Fisher Metaphors and figures of speech need to be able to illustrate a real concept. God having wings and sheltering us gives us an image of God protecting us as a bird protects its young. The concepts are similar and related. What does “God saying that He repents for His own sake that the pagan nations will not think of Him poorly” mean?

C Ray  You have lost this little debate from the get go. You have denied that God is defined by Scripture as a whole. ALL Scripture is profitable for doctrine, not just a few verses taken out of context. There is a system of dogmatic truth in the Bible and the Westminster Standards are the best summary of that biblical system of truth.

C Ray  So if God does not have wings, does God repent? No.

C Ray  God does not think discursively. He is omniscient. He never learns anything new. Sorry.

Christopher Fisher Wings illustrate protection… The Genesis 6 narrative is a LONG NARRATIVE… it is not an idiom or figure of speech, but a story.

C Ray  18 To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?

19 The workman molds an image, The goldsmith overspreads it with gold, And the silversmith casts silver chains.

20 Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution Chooses a tree that will not rot; He seeks for himself a skillful workman To prepare a carved image that will not totter.

21 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

23 He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless.

(Isa 40:18-23 NKJ)

C Ray  All Scripture is inspired…. That would include the verses that you disagree with. God is sovereign.

C Ray  35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?” (Dan 4:35 NKJ)

C Ray  In fact, it is you who reads into the text. I interpret the Scriptures by other more plain Scriptures.

Christopher Fisher Do you want to deal with the text one by one like an adult, or do you want to spray and pray?

C Ray  God even ordains evil according to Isaiah 45:7….

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7 KJV)

Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? (Amos 3:6 KJV)

Christopher Fisher Exo 32:7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.

Exo 32:8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ ”

Christopher Fisher Eze 4:12 And you shall eat it as barley cakes; and bake it using fuel of human waste in their sight.”

Eze 4:13 Then the LORD said, “So shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, where I will drive them.”

Eze 4:14 So I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Indeed I have never defiled myself from my youth till now; I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has abominable flesh ever come into my mouth.”

Eze 4:15 Then He said to me, “See, I am giving you cow dung instead of human waste, and you shall prepare your bread over it.”

Christopher Fisher Eze 2:3 And He said to me: “Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day.

C Ray  Chris, this is your second warning. I told you I decide what goes on here. If you don’t like the rules, go elsewhere.

Christopher Fisher Isa 5:4 What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, Did it bring forth wild grapes?

Christopher Fisher Jdg 2:20 Then the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice,

Jdg 2:21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died,

Jdg 2:22 so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.”

Jdg 2:23 Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out immediately; nor did He deliver them into the hand of Joshua.

C Ray  The rules are laid out in the group description. We adhere to confessional and biblical theology here. The Bible is the final authority and the Westminster Standard are the best summary of that system of dogmatic theology.

Christopher Fisher Yes, only one of us has been taking the Bible seriously. And this is evident in the Exodus 32 discussion.

C Ray  You will refrain from slanderous propaganda like this” “…like an adult….”

C Ray  If you cannot answer logically and biblically, go elsewhere. I’m sure others will tolerate your abusive ad hominem. Here it does not fly.

Christopher Fisher How is this an anthropomorphism? What does it mean?

Eze 20:8 But they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said, ‘I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.’

Eze 20:9 But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

Christopher Fisher Calling something an anthropomorphism does not give you license to ignore the text. What is being communicated?

C Ray  Conditional statements in Scripture do not entail that God literally changes His mind. God is eternally unchanging.

Christopher Fisher How is this an anthropomorphism? What does it mean? Calling something an anthropomorphism does not give you license to ignore the text. What is being communicated?

Eze 20:8 But they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said, ‘I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.’

Eze 20:9 But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

Christopher Fisher And why when we look at Biblical commentary from within the Bible does it always interpret like the face value of the original text. It is never discounted at metaphorical like Calvinists are prone to do. Could it be that Calvinists do not really care for what the Bible teaches?

C Ray  “It now follows, And I said I would pour forth, that is, I determined to pour forth. God here signifies that he was inflamed by anger, and unless they had respect to his name he would not withdraw his hand from the vengeance to which it was armed and prepared. We know that this does not properly belong to God, but this is, the language of accommodation, since first of all, God is not subject to vengeance, and, secondly, does not decree what he may afterwards retract. But since these things are not in character with God, simile and accommodation are used. As often as the Holy Spirit uses these forms of speech, let us learn that they refer rather to the matter in hand than to the character of God. God determined to pour forth his anger, that is, the Israelites had so deserved it through their crimes, that it was necessary to execute punishment upon them. The Prophet simply means that the people’s disposition was sinful, and hence God’s wrath would have been poured out, unless he had been held back from some other cause. I have already touched upon the obstacle, because he consulted his honor lest it should be profaned.”

John Calvin’s Commentary on Ezekiel 20:8…

Christopher Fisher Yeah, but what does it communicate the the audience?

Christopher Fisher God is literally recounting a past event, and not in terms conducive to Calvinism. Why would God “accommodate” with that event? What purpose does it serve and how is that more meaningful than God communicating what He actually means?

Christopher Fisher So, the first event describes God repenting due to Moses’ argument that God will look bad. Moses follows this up explaining that is what happened. God comments on this event saying the same thing. The Psalmist describes this event as Moses saving Israel from God.

Calvinists: Oh, that is just accommodation. Baby talk.

C Ray  You keep confusing God with the creature:)

C Ray  Yes, men are not omniscient:) Hello?

Christopher Fisher One of the OP questions is about Jesus. Seeing Jesus shows us God.

  1. In what way does Jesus resemble an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable, timeless, and simple God?

Verse: Joh 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Christopher Fisher 16. Did Jesus know everything?

Verse: Mar 13:32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

C Ray  bbl

C Ray  Jesus was a man. So no, Jesus didn’t know everything. Don’t confuse the Logos with the human person of Jesus. They are united but not mixed.

C Ray  Later

Christopher Fisher Great, Jesus did not know everything. That makes this question much harder for your belief:

  1. In what way does Jesus resemble an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable, timeless, and simple God?

Verse: Joh 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

C Ray  You are ignorant of the doctrine of the incarnation

Christopher Fisher So, let us sum up the conversation thus far. The Opening Post asserted that Calvinists were bad at answering questions, listing out 20 questions. You attempted to answer one question, which led to further complications of the text (which I pointed out and which you never answered). You attempted to use prooftexts to override the meaning of Jesus’ words. And every prooftext you used, I explained a common sense understanding that uses normal reading comprehension to show these verses do not necessarily support your theology (Psalms 139, Hebrews 3, Ephesians 1, Isaiah 14 and 46) and that allow Jesus’ words to be taken at face value. On a side note: This should call into question any prooftext you used that I did not address, as you regularly misquote the Bible unapologetically for your theology. Contrastingly, all the verses that I used, you attempted to just dismiss on the grounds that they do not fit your theology! You attempt to dismiss long narratives and grounded events that are commented on throughout the Bible in a manner never hinted at throughout the Bible with linguistical mechanisms that are alien to normal human speech. You even go so far as discounting the words of God, Himself. This, you believe, is rational thinking. Furthermore, you think people who take these events literally are irrational.

It is pretty clear to me that you have zero Biblical evidence for your beliefs. You are not interested in examining your prooftexts individually for context and meaning. Instead, you want to flood the conversation with prooftexts which you load with assumptions (assumptions unfounded when we turn to the texts in question). You have shown yourself hostile to answering very basic questions (proving the point of the OP) forcing me to ask repeatedly. You did not answer a ridiculous amount of questions throughout this conversation and wasted my time having to repeat several again and again. You also would not admit when you were clearly wrong when you claimed I misquoted Calvin. Your arrogance will not allow you to give any inch anywhere. You then use loaded language and insults to distract from the issues at hand. You are not a Biblical scholar and you use Platonism to override the Bible.

 

[To be continued…]

Edit: Full debate found here.

Calvin Admits to Killing Servetus

Calvin writes:

Servetus suffered the penalty due to his heresies, but was it by my will? Certainly his arrogance destroyed him not less than his impiety. And what crime was it of mine if our Council, at my exhortation, indeed, but in conformity with the opinion of several Churches, took vengeance on his execrable blasphemies? Let Baudouin abuse me as long as he will, provided that, by the judgment of Melanchthon, posterity owes me a debt of gratitude for having purged the Church of so pernicious a monster.

Calvin on Psalms 139:16

Whereas Calvinists usually quote Psalms 139:16 as evidence that God predestines people’s entire lives, Calvin understood it as a illustration of the development of a fetus in the womb:

Some read ימים, yamim, in the nominative case, when days were made; the sense being, according to them — All my bones were written in thy book, O God! from the beginning of the world, when days were first formed by thee, and when as yet none of them actually existed. The other is the more natural meaning, That the different parts of the human body are formed in a succession of time; for in the first germ there is no arrangement of parts, or proportion of members, but it is developed, and takes its peculiar form progressively.

Sproul on Repentance

Excerpted from Does God Change His Mind? Divine Repentance by Calvinist R.C. Sproul:

The biblical narratives in which God appears to repent, or change His mind, are almost always narratives that deal with His threats of judgment and punishment. These threats are then followed by the repentance of the people or by the intercessory petitions of their leaders. God is not talked into “changing His mind.” Out of His gracious heart He only does what He has promised to do all along – not punish sinners who repent and turn from their evil ways. He chooses not to do what He has every right to do.

The point of these narratives is to encourage us to pray. We are to make intercession. The promised threats of divine punishment are given with the condition attached that if we repent, we ~vi1l escape those punishments. Sometimes that condition is spelled out explicitly, while at other times it is merely implied. When we repent, then God removes the threat of punishment. The question is, Who is ultimately repenting here? God never repents in the sense that He turns away from sin or from error.

God is not a man. He does not ultimately or literally have arms or legs. He does not repent as men repent. He listens to our prayers but is never corrected by them. He changes not- neither in the perfection of His being nor in the perfection of His thoughts.

Calvin on God Predestining Sin

From Institutes of the Christian Religion:

6. Impiety starts another objection, which, however, seeks not so much to criminate God as to excuse the sinner; though he who is condemned by God as a sinner cannot ultimately be acquitted without impugning the judge. This, then is the scoffing language which profane tongues employ. Why should God blame men for things the necessity of which he has imposed by his own predestination? What could they do? Could they struggle with his decrees? It were in vain for them to do it, since they could not possibly succeed. It is not just, therefore, to punish them for things the principal cause of which is in the predestination of God. Here I will abstain from a defense to which ecclesiastical writers usually recur, that there is nothing in the prescience of God to prevent him from regarding; man as a sinner, since the evils which he foresees are man’s, not his. This would not stop the caviler, who would still insist that God might, if he had pleased, have prevented the evils which he foresaw, and not having done so, must with determinate counsel have created man for the very purpose of so acting on the earth. But if by the providence of God man was created on the condition of afterwards doing whatever he does, then that which he cannot escape, and which he is constrained by the will of God to do, cannot be charged upon him as a crime. Let us, therefore, see what is the proper method of solving the difficulty. First, all must admit what Solomon says, “The Lord has made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil,” (Prov. 16: 4.) Now, since the arrangement of all things is in the hand of God, since to him belongs the disposal of life and death, he arranges all things by his sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction. If any one alleges that no necessity is laid upon them by the providence of God, but rather that they are created by him in that condition, because he foresaw their future depravity, he says something, but does not say enough. Ancient writers, indeed, occasionally employ this solution, though with some degree of hesitation. The Schoolmen, again, rest in it as if it could not be gainsaid. I, for my part, am willing to admit, that mere prescience lays no necessity on the creatures; though some do not assent to this, but hold that it is itself the cause of things. But Valla, though otherwise not greatly skilled in sacred matters, seems to me to have taken a shrewder and more acute view, when he shows that the dispute is superfluous since life and death are acts of the divine will rather than of prescience. If God merely foresaw human events, and did not also arrange and dispose of them at his pleasure, there might be room for agitating the question, how far his foreknowledge amounts to necessity; but since he foresees the things which are to happen, simply because he has decreed that they are so to happen, it is vain to debate about prescience, while it is clear that all events take place by his sovereign appointment.

Answered Questions – Who Can Resist His Will

Calvinists often quote Romans 9 in an effort to claim that God’s will always and forever is happening:

Rom 9:18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”

They believe that God’s will is never thwarted. This is despite the fact that a major theme in the Bible is Israel’s continued thwarting of God’s will. But a very contrite answer is “lawyers”. Lawyers can resist God’s will:

Luk 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.

The Calvinist takes Romans 9 out of context. Paul is not asking “who can resist God’s will on any matter ever?” Paul is saying “Because God’s calling of a chosen people was not based on merit, God is revoking this status, and who can oppose Him?” In fact, the beginning verses of Romans 9 details Israel’s rebellion in spite of divine advantages. And then in Romans 10, Paul warns the Gentiles that God will cut them off if they too rebel. And then in Romans 11, Paul makes it clear that the elect Israel are enemies of the gospel:

Rom 11:28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.

All these fact do not lend itself to an interpretation that “For who has resisted His will?” is a rhetorical question meant to be broadly applied. It only applies to the context of Paul’s point. Paul believes plenty of people resist God’s will.

Free Monday – How the Salvation of Cornelius Refutes Calvinism

Will Duffy writes an article: How the Salvation of Cornelius Refutes Calvinism.

An excerpt:

Monergism would necessitate that Cornelius has already been regenerated at this point. For Calvinism would not describe an unsaved man the way Luke describes Cornelius here. Yet prior to his conversion, Cornelius was a devout man, and feared God. He also gave alms and prayed to God always. Though contradicted by numerous biblical examples, according to Calvinism, unregenerate men cannot do good in the sight of God. And in contrast to Ezekiel’s warning to the man whose “righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered”, regarding Cornelius, the Apostle Peter says, “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God” (Acts 10:31). Yet the book of Acts shows clearly that Cornelius had yet to experience salvation.

Apologetics Thursday – Acts 13:48

By Christopher Fisher

Act 13:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

A Calvinist reports that Acts 13:48 is the Bible verse that made him a Calvinist. He writes:

I think the thing that was so compelling to me in this verse is that it wasn’t a broad doctrinal statement on God choosing a people for him self or even a parable. Don’t misunderstand me – I love those. But in that moment it occurred to me that this was a very historical and contextual expression of predestination in the bible. There are very specific people that this happens in the stream of the narrative. It was never meant to be a theological argument that’s build up over chapters. It’s a succinct statement from Luke about what happened to these gentiles who heard Paul’s sermon. More than that, it says it so plainly put and straight-forward.

But, here is the interesting thing, the Bible verse actually has a very probable translation that destroys Calvinism. Due to the single fact that most translators are Calvinists, this young man adopted their readings and also became a Calvinist. One has to wonder how much more damage the Calvinist stranglehold on translations has done. The verse very easily could have been rendered:

Act 13:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as appointed themselves to eternal life believed.

In the Greek language, the Middle and Passive take the same verb form. So unless the context is clear, there is uncertainty in if others are acting upon someone or if those people are acting upon themselves. This Greek Grammar website explains:

Middle and Passive Transitive Verbs Transitive verbs can be either middle or passive, and only the context can help you decide which meaning is intended. (Transitive) Middle Voice Usage For transitive verbs, the implication of the of the middle voice is that the action expressed by the verb directly affects the subject. The verbs in the following sentences are all transitive, and they all have a middle/passive form in Greek. οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε You do not know what you are requesting (Matthew 20:22) ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· πάτερ, εἰς χεῖράς σου παρατίθεμαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου. Jesus said: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46) τί διαλογίζεσθε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς …ὅτι ἄρτους οὐκ ἔχετε; Why are you discussing among yourselves …that you have no bread? In each of these examples, the subject is presented as acting for its own benefit. Compare the following example. The verb used there (δέχομαι) is a lexical middle. ἐμὲ δέχεται [He/she] receives me (Matthew 10:40) The form of this verb that appears in the lexicon (δέχομαι) is middle voice. Since the verb always has a middle voice implication—the action it expresses (receiving) directly impacts its subject—it never appears with active voice forms. Its meaning is best expressed in the middle voice. Passive Voice Usage (always transitive) Observe the following sentences in which the subject is acted upon by someone not explicitly named. οὐχὶ δύο στρουθία ἀσσαρίου πωλεῖται Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? (Matthew 10:19) ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι Your sins are forgiven (Mark 2:5) ἕκαστον γὰρ δένδρον ἐκ τοῦ καρποῦ γινώσκεται For every tree is known by its fruit (Luke 6:44) Notice that the subject of these verbs would be the object if the verb were active voice. This is the basic meaning of the passive voice. When translating Greek middle/passive forms of transitive verbs you may need to try both middle and passive translations to see which makes best sense in the context.

This cannot be stated enough: When translating Greek middle/passive forms of transitive verbs you may need to try both middle and passive translations to see which makes best sense in the context. Jesse Morrel makes an excellent case as to why this passage would be better rendered as middle.

Hodge on Negative Theology

From Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology:

This principle of classification is perhaps the one most generally adopted. It gives rise, however, really but to two classes, namely, the positive and negative, i.e., those in which something is affirmed, and those in which something is denied concerning God. To the negative class are commonly referred simplicity, infinity, eternity, immutability; to the positive class, power, knowledge, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. Instead of calling the one class negative and the other positive, they are often distinguished as absolute and relative. By an absolute attribute is meant one which belongs to God, considered in Himself, and which implies no relation to other beings; by a relative attribute is meant one which implies relation to an object. They are also distinguished as immanent and transient, as communicable and incommunicable. These terms are used interchangeably. They do not express different modes of classification, but are different modes of designating the same classification. Negative, absolute, immanent, and incommunicable, are designations of one class; and positive, relative, transitive, and communicable, are designations of the other class.

Surgeon on the Incarnation

Quoted by Confessing Baptist:

But God is perpetually the same. He is not composed of any substance or material, but is spirit—pure, essential, and ethereal spirit—and therefore he is immutable. He remains everlastingly the same. There are no furrows on his eternal brow. No age hath palsied him; no years have marked him with the mementoes of their flight; he sees ages pass, but with him it is ever now. He is the great I AM—the Great Unchangeable.

Mark you, his essence did not undergo a change when it became united with the manhood. When Christ in past years did gird himself with mortal clay, the essence of his divinity was not changed; flesh did not become God, nor did God become flesh by a real actual change of nature; the two were united in hypostatical union, but the Godhead was still the same. It was the same when he was a babe in the manger, as it was when he stretched the curtains of heaven; it was the same God that hung upon the cross, and whose blood flowed down in a purple river, the self-same God that holds the world upon his everlasting shoulders, and bears in his hands the keys of death and hell.

He never has been changed in his essence, not even by his incarnation; he remains everlastingly, eternally, the one unchanging God, the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither the shadow of a change.

Calvin on God’s Repentance

From Institutes of the Christian Religion:

If no man knowingly or willingly reduces himself to the necessity of repentance, we cannot attribute repentance to God without saying either that he knows not what is to happen, or that he cannot evade it, or that he rushes precipitately and inconsiderately into a resolution, and then forthwith regrets it. But so far is this from the meaning of the Holy Spirit, that in the very mention of repentance he declares that God is not influenced by any feeling of regret, that he is not a man that he should repent. And it is to be observed, that, in the same chapter, both things are so conjoined, that a comparison of the passages admirably removes the appearance of contradiction. 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. Wherefore it is certain that, in administering human affairs, the ordination of God is perpetual and superior to every thing like repentance. That there might be no doubt of his constancy, even his enemies are forced to bear testimony to it.

Anonymous Calvinist Defends Impassibility

The author argues that impassibility is misunderstood:

The Bible? – What about those passages in the Bible that talk about God’s very strong feelings about things? What do they point to if God is not a passionate God? Are they “merely” anthropomorphisms that don’t “really” mean what they say? The Fathers and the medieval tradition made a distinction between ‘passions’ and ‘affections.’ An affection is a sort of controlled emotion that is subject to the will and mind of the one having it. It is a rational emotion that does not overcome the person, but is in line with the will. God has affections such as kindness, anger, etc. which he can display. The passages in the Bible talking about God’s anger, kindness, grief, and so forth are pointing to something real in God—his affections, the emotional life of the God of Israel. They are not “mere” anthropomorphisms, even though they are anthropomorphic. They are real descriptions, though not to be taken in a literalistic fashion, of God’s emotional life.

Grudem on God’s Unchangableness

A Calvinist explains the importance of immutability. From Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology:

f. The Importance of God’s Unchangeableness: At first it may not seem very important to us to affirm God’s unchangeableness. The idea is so abstract that we may not immediately realize its significance. But if we stop for a moment to imagine what it would be like if God could change, the importance of this doctrine becomes more clear. For example, if God could change (in his being, perfections, purposes, or promises), then any change would be either for the better or for the worse. But if God changed for the better, then he was not the best possible being when we first trusted him. And how could we be sure that he is the best possible being now? But if God could change for the worse (in his very being), then what kind of God might he become? Might he become, for instance, a little bit evil rather than wholly good? And if he could become a little bit evil, then how do we know he could not change to become largely evil—or wholly evil? And there would be not one thing we could do about it, for he is so much more powerful than we are. Thus, the idea that God could change leads to the horrible possibility that thousands of years from now we might come to live forever in a universe dominated by a wholly evil, omnipotent God. It is hard to imagine any thought more terrifying. How could we ever trust such a God who could change? How could we ever commit our lives to him?

Grudem on Omnipresence

From Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (1994):

Thus, we should not think of God as having size or dimensions even infinite ones (see the discussion on God’s omnipresence in the previous chapter). We should not think of God’s existence as spirit as meaning that God is infinitely large, for example, for it is not part of God but all of God that is in every point of space (see Ps. 139:7–10). Nor should we think that God’s existence as spirit means that God is infinitely small, for no place in the universe can surround him or contain him (see 1 Kings 8:27). Thus, God’s being cannot be rightly thought of in terms of space, however we may understand his existence as “spirit.”

Piper Suggests Books

John Piper, a Calvinist, posts some book recommendations:

Systematic Theology

Systematic Theology (Grudem)
A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Reymond)
Systematic Theology (Berkhof)

The Attributes of God

The Doctrine of God (Bavinck)
Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Carson)
The Existence and Attributes of God (Charnock)
God the Father Almighty (Erickson)
Knowing God (Packer)
The Holiness of God (Sproul)
The Pleasures of God (Piper)
The Doctrine of God (Frame)
The Attributes of God (Pink)

Grudem on God

A Calvinist defines God. From Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology:

1. There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and
perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable,
immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most
absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most
righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering,
abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the
rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal, most just, and terrible in his
judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

Jones on Total Depravity

A former Calvinist examines Total Depravity:

The Genesis Account

This loss of ability to receive spiritual truth is one of the consequences of Original Sin, we are told. If this is true, we would surely expect to find some mention of it in the Genesis account. Yet there is no record there of God imposing this curse of Total Inability on man’s nature. There are other curses listed. God pronounced the death sentence, which He defined as a return to the dust (Gen. 3:19). Such language obviously denotes a physical death, not a loss of spiritual ability or a death to God.

God decreed the presence of “thorns and thistles” to make toil more difficult (v.18). He told the woman that she must endure great pain in childbearing (v.16). Both of these curses are trivial compared to what would be the most debilitating curse of all: the removal of all ability to respond to God. Of this we haven’t the slightest mention. George Burnap comments:

“If this doctrine is true, God did not tell man the true penalty, neither the truth, nor the whole truth, nor a hundredth part of the truth. To have told the whole truth, according to this hypothesis, He should have said, ‘Because ye have done this, cursed be that moral nature which I have given you. Henceforth such is the change I make in your natures: that ye shall be, and your offspring, infinitely odious and hateful in my sight. The moment their souls shall go forth from my hand…if they are suffered to live, such shall be the diseased constitution of their moral natures: that they shall have no freedom to do one single good action, but everything they do shall be sin….What an awful blot would such a curse be on the first pages of Scripture!”6

It is true that death passed upon all men through the First Adam. His expulsion from the Garden with its Tree of Life removed him from the source of immortality and made death certain. This is also true of his posterity. But the transmission of Total Inability toward God is nowhere conveyed in the text.

Two primary texts adduced to prove the doctrine of Original Sin (Rom. 5; 1 Cor. 15) say nothing about Total Inability. Nowhere are we told that an invincible tendency to resist God was imparted to the race through the offense of one. If there were a place we would expect to find the doctrine, it would be in one of those passages dealing with the relationship between Adam and his descendants. But there is not a trace of such teaching there.

Ezekiel 16

Triablogue wonders why Open Theists do not use Ezekiel 16 to show Open Theism:

However, the question at issue isn’t how I interpret Ezk 16, but how we’d expect open theism to handle this passage, if its proponents were consistent. Given their hermeneutical presuppositions, it’s hard to see how open theists can effectively resist the feministic interpretation. Ezk 23 presents the same dilemma.

vi) Given open theist hermeneutics, the God who emerges from Ezk 16 is a terrifying God. And terrifying in a particular respect: he lacks emotional self-control. He loses his cool, lashing out in fury. A God with a short fuse.

It’s like a Mafia Don who adopts the daughter of his late brother. He raises her with great affection and kindness. But if his ward betrays his love, his love turns to hate. He becomes vindictive. He’s wonderful to you as long as you don’t cross him. But if you get on his wrong side, if he feels betrayed, then you will find yourself on the receiving end of omnipotent revenge.

It’s like a throwback to Greek mythology. Think of the ingenious punishments which the Greek gods devise for those who fall out of favor.

Piper’s Prooftexts

John Piper, a Calvinist, offers prooftexts to show that man does not thwart God’s will:

Genesis 50:20: Joseph says to his brothers who had sold him into slavery, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”

Deuteronomy 29:2-4: Moses says to the Israelites before they enter the promised land, “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes . . . those great signs and wonders. Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.” (cf. Romans 11:32; Deuteronomy 5:29).

Proverbs 16:4: “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.” (cf. 1 Peter 2:8; Jude 4; Romans 9:22)

Proverbs 16:9: “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

Proverbs 16:33: “The lot is cast in the lap, but every decision is from the Lord.”

Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans of a man’s heart but the counsel of the Lord, it will stand.”

Proverbs 21:1: “The King’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he wishes.”

Isaiah 63:17: “Why, O Lord, dost thou cause us to stray from thy ways, and harden our heart from fearing thee? Return for the sake of thy servants, the tribes of thy heritage.”

Jeremiah 10:23: “I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself; Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.”

Jeremiah 32:40: In the promise of the new covenant God says, “I will put the fear of me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from me” (cf. Ezekiel 36:27; Jeremiah 52:1-3).

Lamentations 3:37f: “Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth?” (cf. Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6).

Philippians 2:12, 13: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

2 Timothy 2:24-26: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome but . . . able to teach . . . with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

Hebrews 13:20, 21: “Now the God of peace . . . equip you in every good thing to do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 17:17: Of the ten kings who wage war against the harlot (Babylon) it is said, “They will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. For God has put it in their hearts to execute his purpose . . .”

Piper on God’s Two Wills

Piper, a Calvinist, discusses God’s two wills in his review of God’s Strategy in Human History:

D. F&M cite many texts in which “not all men do God’s will” (31.4). They conclude from these verses (e.g. Luke 7:30; Matthew 23:37; 12:50; 7:21; John 7:17; 1 John 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 5:17-19; Acts 7:51) that a man can thwart the will of God for him. If Jesus says that only those who do the will of his Father in heaven will enter into the Kingdom then there are many who do not do the will of God. F&M conclude: “Nothing in Scripture suggests that there is some kind of will or plan of God which is inviolable” (32.3, see “E” below for Scriptures which do indeed suggest this!). They reject any attempt to distinguish between two ways that the will or counsel of God is conceived (32.33). But in doing this they reject a theological construction which in my opinion handles the data of Scripture more coherently than the theological construction of free will and the thwartable God.

A careful reflection upon the Scriptures compels us to distinguish between different senses in which the will of God is spoken of. Calvin uses the terms “signified will” and “effectual will” (32). Jonathan Edwards refers to God’s “secret will” and his “revealed will” or, which is perhaps most apt, God’s “will of decree” and his “will of command.” The stumbling block for the Arminians has always been that Calvinists assert that God can command one thing and decree that another thing come to pass; he can say that one thing is his will and yet foreordain a contrary thing. But is this not in fact so?

Let’s take the example of Pharaoh’s hardening of heart. It is irrelevant for the present point whether F&M are right to translate “harden” as “strengthen.” What is important is simply this: to F&M after the fifth plague God gave Pharaoh “supernatural strength to continue with his evil path of rebellion” (73.9). In other words, it was God’s will that for five more plagues Pharaoh not let the people of Israel go. Nevertheless even after God had willed not to let Israel go for five more plagues, “The Lord said to Moses ‘Go to Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, Let my people go!””‘ (Exodus 8:1). Here is a clear example of where God’s “will of decree” and “will of command” have to be distinguished.

Piper Reviews God’s Strategy in Human History

Piper gives a brief overview of the Open Theist friendly book, God’s Strategy in Human History:

Now we have arrived at the root of F&M’s book. Now we can say what generated these 296 pages. I think God’s Strategy in Human History was written to prove this one sentence: “Human beings, of course, could not thwart God’s ultimate plan for the world, but they both can and do thwart his plan that they, as individuals, should have a part in it” (27.8, 30.4). To put it another way, “God ordains that the new heaven and new earth will come. He does not ordain which particular individuals will accept his plan for them to have a part in it” (28.2).

Miller on the Origin of Double Predestination

From God’s Moral Government of Love:

Neither Luther nor Calvin, however, made pre-destination the central concern of their theologies. Luther was quick to say that pre-destination only had to do with the hidden God, the Deus Absconditus, and that Christians should focus on the choices and grace that the revealed God has promised to all. Likewise, Calvin did not advocate “double predestination,” where God creates some men to save them, and creates others with the intention of damning them. This stern doctrine was a later addition by his successors in Geneva, Theodore Beza and others.

Lutheranism is not known for its strict doctrines of election and sovereignty, largely because of the influence of Melanchthon. Also a first generation reformer, Melanchthon was willing to allow the puzzle of divine foreknowledge and human freedom to go unsolved, rather than insist that there was no free will. Due to Melanchthon’s influence, Lutheranism took a more moderate path in relation to pre-destination, with a general rejection of notions of double predestination and some openness to human choice.

Divine Impassibility Talk on Reformed Forum

The full audio can be found on Reformed Forum

A quote from the audio (“God is not free”):

“As soon as you say something like ‘God has the freedom’ you immediate have to qualify… God doesnt stand deliberatively in any passive sense before a range of action.”
An excerpt from the webpage:

The Christ the Center panel meets with Rev. Dr. James Dolezal to discuss the much maligned doctrine of divine impassibility. Beginning with a look at Westminster Confession of Faith 2.1, that “There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions…” the panel looks at the biblical basis and importance of understanding, affirming, and developing a proper use of this doctrine that God does not have passions. Often taken to be a denial of, for instance, God’s love, it is shown that the truth is to the contrary. As simple and as pure act, God is love in the fullest sense without fluctuation or change which is the human lot. This discussion offers much food for thought.

Apologetics Thursday – God Makes the Mute

By Christopher Fisher

Triablogue posits a verse to show that God is the cause of all physical deformity:

Exod 4:11

Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? (Exod 4:11).

Some Christians, hoping apparently to limit God’s liability, effectively absolve God of responsibility for what goes on in the world. If a child is born blind, it is a result of a prenatal infection or genetic defect; God had nothing to do with it. If religious zealots bring down buildings and kill thousands, God was not involved. The problem with this is that it effectively limits God’s power and sovereignty. What if an infection was the proximate cause of a baby’s being born blind? Couldn’t God have saved the child if he had wanted to? Couldn’t God have stopped the mass-murderers? God cannot be almighty and all-knowing and also be absolved of responsibility for what happens in the world.

God’s response in Exod 4:11 is striking: he takes full responsibility for the suffering that people experience. He makes some blind, some deaf, and some mute. The text does not deny that there are proximate causes to such things (injuries, infections, etc.; the ancients knew nothing about viruses and bacteria, but they certainly knew that accidents and injuries could make a person blind or lame). Furthermore, the issue of human sin is never raised in God’s response. This passage is not at all concerned with proximate causes–human sin, like disease or injury, is really just another proximate cause. This text is focused on the ultimate cause, God, and does not shrink from affirming that God is in control of all that happens. Of course, the question of theodicy is very large, and merely asserting that God takes responsibility for all that happens in the world does not resolve all the issues. This topic is explored much more fully in Job. D. Garrett, A Commentary on Exodus (Kregel 2014), 215-16.

What is interesting about this verse is that Triablogue uses the ESV rendering of the verse:

Exo 4:11 Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?

The NKJV gives an alternative rendering:

Exo 4:11 So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?

The ESV seems to in fact say that God is the cause all birth defects, at minimum. The NKJV merely says that God makes all people (some may be mute and some may be blind). The Hebrew, as languages tend to do, can support either. So then the context must be examined.

The immediate point of the verse is that God is trying to convince Moses to go to Egypt on God’s behalf. That is not a fatalistic or Calvinist concept. God is arguing that Moses can speak, despite Moses’ lack of confidence, because God will be with him. It is interesting to note that God loses this argument with Moses. God gets angry, gives up, and appoints Aaron to be Moses’ mouthpiece:

Exo 4:14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.

In a context where God’s plan is thwarted by Moses, the meaning that Triablogue gives to the verse is highly unreasonable. God is not claiming to control all life changing calamities forever into the future. God is not controlling all things even in the present; sometimes petty complaints thwart God’s will. The text is just not about Calvinistic sovereignty.

If God is claiming to cause birth defects, God’s reasoning to Moses would have to be thus: “I am the one who created your mouth (and everyone’s mouth) and I know the limits to which I created it. I know you can speak for Me. Your argument is invalid.”

But the context of Exodus 3 and 4 is about God enabling Moses with power. So, while God could be claiming to cause birth defects, it is more likely that God is claiming to have power. God is the creator of all men. And the creator of all men would help Moses communicate. Moses does not have to worry about his speech because he has Yahweh on his side (see also Exo 3:12). The very next verse says:

Exo 4:12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

AW Pink of Foreknowledge and Election

From The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink:

God foreknows what will be because He has decreed what shall be. It is therefore a reversing of the order of Scripture, a putting of the cart before the horse, to affirm that God elects because He foreknows people. The truth is, He “foreknows” because He has elected. This removes the ground or cause of election from outside the creature, and places it in God’s own sovereign will. God purposed in Himself to elect a certain people, not because of anything good in them or from them, either actual or foreseen, but solely out of His own mere pleasure. As to why He chose the ones He did, we do not know, and can only say, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” The plain truth of Romans 8:29 is that God, before the foundation of the world, singled out certain sinners and appointed them unto salvation (2 Thess. 2:13). This is clear from the concluding words of the verse: “Predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son,” etc. God did not predestinate those whom He foreknew were “conformed,” but, on the contrary, those whom He “foreknew” (i.e., loved and elected) He predestinated to be conformed. Their conformity to Christ is not the cause, but the effect of God’s foreknowledge and predestination.

Jones on Total Inability

From Calvinism Critiqued by a Former Calvinist by Steve Jones. Jones refutes Total Depravity (Total Inability):

The Genesis Account

This loss of ability to receive spiritual truth is one of the consequences of Original Sin, we are told. If this is true, we would surely expect to find some mention of it in the Genesis account. Yet there is no record there of God imposing this curse of Total Inability on man’s nature. There are other curses listed. God pronounced the death sentence, which He defined as a return to the dust (Gen. 3:19). Such language obviously denotes a physical death, not a loss of spiritual ability or a death to God.

God decreed the presence of “thorns and thistles” to make toil more difficult (v.18). He told the woman that she must endure great pain in childbearing (v.16). Both of these curses are trivial compared to what would be the most debilitating curse of all: the removal of all ability to respond to God. Of this we haven’t the slightest mention. George Burnap comments:

“If this doctrine is true, God did not tell man the true penalty, neither the truth, nor the whole truth, nor a hundredth part of the truth. To have told the whole truth, according to this hypothesis, He should have said, ‘Because ye have done this, cursed be that moral nature which I have given you. Henceforth such is the change I make in your natures: that ye shall be, and your offspring, infinitely odious and hateful in my sight. The moment their souls shall go forth from my hand…if they are suffered to live, such shall be the diseased constitution of their moral natures: that they shall have no freedom to do one single good action, but everything they do shall be sin….What an awful blot would such a curse be on the first pages of Scripture!”6

It is true that death passed upon all men through the First Adam. His expulsion from the Garden with its Tree of Life removed him from the source of immortality and made death certain. This is also true of his posterity. But the transmission of Total Inability toward God is nowhere conveyed in the text.

Two primary texts adduced to prove the doctrine of Original Sin (Rom. 5; 1 Cor. 15) say nothing about Total Inability. Nowhere are we told that an invincible tendency to resist God was imparted to the race through the offense of one. If there were a place we would expect to find the doctrine, it would be in one of those passages dealing with the relationship between Adam and his descendants. But there is not a trace of such teaching there.

Apologetics Thursday – When God Destroys Cities

In the Sanders-White debate, James White quotes Amos 3:6 as saying every destruction of every city is the work of God:

Amo 3:6 If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?

But contrary to White’s accretion, the context points to the exact opposite conclusion. The chapter starts with a warning to Israel:

Amo 3:1 Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying:
Amo 3:2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

God is going to punish Israel. In the next series of verses, God uses metaphors to illustrate that this destruction will happen.

Amo 3:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
Amo 3:4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing?
Amo 3:5 Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it? Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all?
Amo 3:6 If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?

The verses are not very cause-and-effect. Yeah, two people can walk together without agreeing, but it is not usual. Lions roar sometimes for no reason, but most likely they have a prey. Sometimes traps spring and birds die on their own. The exceptions are not the point. God is saying in Amos that He is the lion and He has found His prey. Amos is warning Israel of this destruction, and that warning will prove the destruction is from God. The very next verse debunks the claim that all destruction everywhere is from God:

Amo 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
Amo 3:8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?

God highlights His power by first telling people what He will do before He does it. That is the point of Amos 3:6, God does what He declares. This is especially true concerning cities of Israel, to whom the warning is addressed. God had a special relationship with Israel which involved extra attention (both positive and negative).

Now, in the modern and ancient world there were many cities that perished without a prophet from God. These cities may or may not have been destroyed by God. God may or may not reveal His punishments to prophets. But to get credit, that is how God normally operates. God’s point is that when He proclaims disaster, then the disaster that comes is from God. God needs to specify this because in Amos 3:9 God is recruiting Israel’s normal enemies. It would be easy to think that they are acting without any punishment from God.

The really destructive point towards White’s theology is that God explains why He has summoned judgment:

Amo 3:10 For they do not know to do right,’ Says the LORD, ‘Who store up violence and robbery in their palaces.’ ”

The people rejected God and therefor God is calling judgment against them. God is responding to the actions of people, something that White rejects as a possibility.

Questions Answered – Praying for Unbelievers

John Piper asks:

Now I would like to turn the question back to my questioner: If you insist that this man must have the power of ultimate self-determination, what is the point of praying for him? What do you want God to do for him? You can’t ask that God overcome the man’s rebellion, for rebellion is precisely what the man is now choosing, so that would mean God overcame his choice and took away his power of self-determination. But how can God save this man unless he act so as to change the man’s heart from hard hostility to tender trust?

Will you pray that God enlighten his mind so that he truly see the beauty of Christ and believe? If you pray this, you are in effect asking God no longer to leave the determination of the man’s will in his own power. You are asking God to do something within the man’s mind (or heart) so that he will surely see and believe. That is, you are conceding that the ultimate determination of the man’s decision to trust Christ is God’s, not merely his.

When people live and operate in a Calvinist mindset, often common sense is quickly discarded. All kinds of random non-sequiturs are assumed into reality and used as presuppositions in arguing against competing worldviews (worldviews that don’t buy into the presuppositions). Free Will theologians do not think people cannot be influenced or should not be influenced. In fact, many Free Will theologians actively proselytize. Asking God to do the same is not only good tactics, but common sense.

Convincing someone to think something is different than forcing them to think something. God, to convince King Nebuchadnezzar to become righteous, morphs Nebuchadnezzar into a kind of man-beast. This is all to nudge Nebuchadnezzar into becoming a more righteous person. This flies in the face of Calvinism, where God could have just predestined Nebuchadnezzar to be more righteous. Instead, man and God desperately act to change hearts and minds.

For that reason, the point of praying for God to assist in converting people is to get God to use His power to help proselytization being effective.

Apologetics Thursday – The Calvinist Dictionary

By Christopher Fisher

Classical Christianity, and more specifically Calvinism, goes through great lengths to redefine words such as to mirror their theology. Below is a selected list of major concepts and words:

Election

To the Calvinist, Election is the process by which God choses some to be saved. One of the five points of Calvinism is Unconditional Election. This means that Calvinist affirm that God elects without condition, people’s actions and beliefs have no part in God electing those individuals. Here is John Piper:

Election refers to God’s choosing whom to save. It is unconditional in that there is no condition man must meet before God chooses to save him. Man is dead in trespasses and sins. So there is no condition he can meet before God chooses to save him from his deadness.

Election, however, does not mean this (not in any language in any time period). In the Greek, election is synonymous with favoritism. People have favorite TV shows, favorite foods, and favorite presidential candidates (of whom go through a process called election). When people have favorites it is always due to a valuation of the object. People’s favorite TV shows might be interesting or funny, people’s favorite foods are appealing, people’s favorite presidential candidate usually has some sort of attracting charisma. In the case of TV shows, the writers have enormous influence over if viewers favorite the show. In the case of food, chefs have enormous influence over if eaters favorite the food. In the case of presidential elections, candidates can make or break their own campaigns based on their own actions. This is election and this is favoritism. Both have everything to do with the qualities of the object.

Sometimes in the Bible, the elect fall out of favor.

Related article.

Predestination

To the Calvinist, Predestination is the process by which man is chosen since before time began to be saved. But as Open Theist Beau Ballentine points out, this is not the natural understanding of what Predestination means:

Calvinism inherently rejects predestination. For predestination to be true, God must determine something beforehand. Before God determined, the future would have to be open. Predestination refutes an eternally settled future and Calvinism.

https://godisopen.com/2014/02/12/predestination-is-not-what-you-think/

Anthropomorphism

Modern Americans should be well familiar with anthropomorphism. Brave Little Toaster, Pixar’s Cars, and a whole host of movies depict human features on inanimate objects. But the problem is that these depictions are purely fictional for entertainment value. Making a talking toaster is not an “idiom”, it is fantasy. Talking toasters do not exist. Describing a talking toaster does not communicate anything. Even when people say “my computer hates me”, it is a joke. It is a joke because computers cannot hate.

Anthropomorphisms depict fiction! For the Calvinist to claim the Bible is filled with anthropomorphisms is to claim the Bible is filled with fictitious portrayals of God that communicate nothing.

Original blog post.

Sovereignty

Reposted comment from Roger Olson:

There is no “sovereignty” in human experience like the “sovereignty” Calvinists insist we must attribute to God in order “really” to believe in “God’s sovereignty.” In ordinary human language “sovereignty” NEVER means total control of every thought and every intention of every subject. And yet it has become a Calvinist mantra that non-Calvinists “do not believe in God’s sovereignty.” I have a tape of a talk where R. C. Sproul says that Arminians “say they believe in God’s sovereignty” but he goes on to say “there’s precious little sovereignty left” (after Arminians qualify it). And yet he doesn’t admit there (or anywhere I’m aware of) that his own view of God’s sovereignty (which I call divine determinism) is not at all like sovereignty as we ordinarily mean it. That’s like saying of an absolute monarch who doesn’t control every subject’s every thought and intention and every molecule in the universe that he doesn’t really exercise sovereignty. It’s an idiosyncratic notion of “sovereignty.”

God is Open original post.

Foreknowledge

From Elseth’s Did God Know?:

Proginosko carries with it the idea of past knowledge, to know beforehand, or even foresight, whether human or divine. It is rooted in a medical term originating in the time of Hippocrates and means almost exactly what our English counterpart word, prognosis, means. In medicine, it is the prediction of the probable course of the disease and of the chances of recovery based on present knowledge. In other words, it is a prognosis based on diagnosis…

God is Open original post.

Knowledge

The standard definition of knowledge is a “justified true belief”. The same standard which I can say “I know I am currently wearing pants”, “I know that if I tickle my daughter she will laugh”, and “I know that I was once a baby”, is the same standard which I can say “I know that if tomorrow I walk into Walmart, no employee will stop me from handing over cash in exchange for merchandise.”

Now critics can try to be clever. They always try. They say “You do not know that for sure. The world might end tomorrow.” The funny thing is that they are always wrong, and I am always right. But using extreme hypotheticals, the Augustinians open themselves up to claims that they are nihilists. Their definition of knowledge seems to be a 100% certainty without possibility, no matter how slight, of error.

By the Augustinian standard of “knowledge” I do not know I was once a baby. Maybe I am some programed robot or phantasm in a dream that only thinks I was once a baby. Maybe also, I do not know my daughter will laugh when I tickle her. Maybe my daughter is merely a figment of my imagination. I may be highly schizophrenic. Maybe the pants I am wearing are an elaborate mirage induced by crazy scientists messing with my brain.

Full blog post.

Goodness

From Roger Olson:

Put another way, negatively, if one believes that God’s goodness is nothing like our best intuitions of goodness, that God’s goodness is possibly compatible with anything capable of being put into words (i.e., ultimately and finally mysterious), then there is no good reason to trust him. Trust in a person, even God, necessarily requires belief that the person is good and belief that the person is good necessarily requires some content and not “good” as a cipher for something totally beyond comprehension and unlike anything else we call “good.”

God is Open original post.

Calvinist turns Arminian

Excerpted from a post entitled: Calvinist Pastor Turns from Calvinism to Arminianism after 20 Years as a Calvinist and Intensive Study:

The third thing that set me on the course to reject RT was the thing that had led me into it – Scripture itself. As a pastor I preached through books of the Bible verse by verse. Occasionally I would encounter a common Calvinistic proof text and realize that it did not necessarily say what I had thought it said. John 3 does not necessarily teach that regeneration precedes faith; John 10 does not necessarily teach that Jesus died only for the elect; Eph 1 does not necessarily teach that God ordained whatever happens; 1 Pet 1 does not necessarily teach that God elected individuals for salvation – unconditionally, effectually, exclusively. Once again, these discoveries did not shake my confidence in RT. There were too many passages that clearly taught it; I considered Romans 9 impregnable to Arminian assault. But I realized that the quantity of verses used to support my view did not matter if, upon closer scrutiny, they could not bear the weight that we Calvinists were putting on them on a case-by-case basis.

Apologetics Thursday – Fisher Refutes White

Reposted from realityisnotoptional.com:

The purpose of this post is to examine the context of James White’s arguments in his debate against Bob Enyart. It will be shown that White relies on emotional arguments, and where White references the Bible, his position can be shown wrong by utilizing basic reading comprehension skills.

A few formatting notes: White’s statements will be in bold. Any reference to “Calvinism” will be points that only apply to Calvinists. Any reference to “Augustinianism” will be points that apply to both Calvinists and Arminians. Interspaced in White’s speech, I will indicate if a statement is unbiblical and Platonistic by denoting it with [baseless Platonism]. The purpose of this is because White tends to make absurd claims in a confident tone to trick the audience into believing his claim is founded on Biblical evidence.

After White’s short intro to his round 1 speech, he begins:

…Christianity – all branches of Christianity – have never believed what Bob Enyart just presented to you to be true. The primary reason is this: What you heard Bob do just now is he’s taken certain attributes which all Christians believe – that God is personal, that He’s living, that He’s good, He’s relational – we all believe that. What he does is he elevates those above the other attributes that are revealed in Scripture.

James White claims he believes God is “personal, living, and good.” No one doubt’s White believes that he believes this. The problem is that White’s belief makes very little intellectual sense. “God cannot change”. “God knows all our thoughts and actions from before we were born.” And yet God is personal, living, and good? That is contradictory and does not make sense.

If God cannot change, then God cannot be living. Living things change and respond, unlike the stone idols that God criticizes throughout the Bible. God describes Himself as living, mocking the idols’ inability to hear, speak, smell, move, and respond (Psa 115:6).

If God cannot be affected by His creation, then God cannot be personal. Personal things relate to others. Which is impossible for an impassible deity. God affirms throughout the Bible that certain individuals have changed God’s mind (Exo 32:14).

If God is good by definition and decrees child rape from all eternity (something White reluctantly admits to later in the debate because he understand the utter evil of the act), then God is not good. One of God’s primary characteristics is righteousness, and predestining child rape violates God’s claims of righteousness.

“Good” must relate to our perceptions of what “good” means to communicate any truth to the reader (God affirms this when God agrees with the pagan king Abimelech about what would be right and wrong (Gen 20:5)). Furthermore, God hates when people destroy children: God laments when Israel begins to murder their children (which He says never entered His mind that Israel would do (Jer 32:35)). God is good, and does not predestine child rape.

There is a reason that atheists take the Augustinian Christians to task on these issues. White believes obvious contradictions. White’s appeals to trust him because he has the issues solved in his own mind are not to be taken seriously.

See also:
Moses Convinces God to Look Good
Abimelech Changes God’s Mind
Does God Know All Possible Futures
Why High Calvinism is Impossible (on “good”)
Verses on God being Righteous

The only way to truly understand God is to go to His Word and allow His Word to tell us about Him because we are not like Him. We are His creatures. And therefore, we’re dependent upon His word to explain to us who He is.

This is a good statement. One way to make it better would be to add: “Our goal when reading the Bible must be to figure out what the original author was trying to communicate to the original reader.” White presupposes theology, and then forces it upon authors who in no way can be taken as thinking White’s theology (such as the author of Genesis). In Genesis, there are no statements that even hint at omniscience, omnipresence, immutability, and impassibility. Those concepts are ripped from verses, demonstratively out of context, from much later authors and then forced upon text that is obviously written without this theology as a possibility. Basic reading comprehension should be the standard.

See also:
Biblical Interpretation

So what Christian theology has done down through the years is not follow Plato and all the rest of that kind of stuff. That’s a bogus argument.

It is demonstrable that the fathers of the church were infatuated with Platonism. Augustine (the father of Calvinism) admits the face value reading of the Bible is contrary to his theology and that he only became a Christian when he could interpret the Bible in light of Platonism. Unlike the Calvinist claims that Open Theism is based on pagan philosophy (the Calvinist just makes this up by drawing parallels in their own mind), Open Theists have well documented and admitted adherence to Platonism in the church fathers. The only reason White claims this is a bogus argument is because he has no real response and wants the hearer to dismiss the claims without him having to address the substance. Early Church scholars admit early church devotion to Platonism. The only deniers are the evangelical right, who have a lot to lose if they admit the early church was heavily Platonized.

See also:
The Hellenization of Christianity

What we have done is we have allowed the Scriptures – all of the Scriptures – to reveal the entire range of God’s attributes. And we, as His creatures, do not have the right to say, “I’m going to take this one, this one, this one and this one, and I’m going to subserviate everything else to these because those are the ones that make God look most like me. That’s why you won’t find this belief in church history because people recognize that there are so many passages in the Bible that teach otherwise. It’s a matter of, “Well, you’ve got your interpretational system and I’ve got mine.” It’s allowing the Bible to speak for itself.

If only this was true for White, but it is demonstratively not true for him. Every proof text that White will use can be explained with basic reading comprehension, although White will deny those readings as a possibility. Open Theist proof texts will be explained by White by using figures of speech and twists of understanding alien to normal human communication. White cares more about his Platonism than treating the Bible with intellectual honesty.

So, I’m going to begin with Ephesians 1:11. And I’m going to suggest to you that if you read Ephesians 1:1 through 1:11 you’re going to find no way to limit what God is saying there when he is described as the God Who works all things after the council of His own will because the context there is the accomplishment of the highest act that God is engaged in and that is His self-glorification, the salvation of a specific people that He has elected from time eternal [baseless Platonism]. And so, everything that goes into that has to be a part of God’s plan and God’s sovereign action [baseless Platonism]. And so when it says He works all things after the council of His will, it actually means that.

Eph 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,

Normal reading comprehension leads one to believe that this is not necessarily a statement about God doing all things. Pretend someone was reading a book. The book is about a king who frees slaves and gives them an inheritance. The reader comes across this statement:

By the king, we have obtained an inheritance, previously planned according to the purpose of the king who does all things after careful consideration.

Obviously “all things” is limited to the context, which does not mean everything to ever happen on earth, but, instead, is limited to the actions of the king. Not only that, but it is also a hyperbole in that scope. The hyperbole can be true generally without even covering all actions ever done by the king. In other words, normal reading comprehension would allow this to read “the king generally does the things he does after careful consideration.” The only way this is a proof text for White is for White to presuppose his theology. This is a terrible way to read the Bible.

In the above example, the inheritance applies to the slaves that were freed. Obviously the king did not know the names of all slaves before or even after they were granted inheritance, even though they were foreknown and preplanned. This is not saying that God doesn’t know the individual names of those who are given inheritance, just that this is not a good proof text to make that claim. The only way Ephesians 1:11 is a Calvinist proof text is if it is presupposed that Calvinism is true and then presupposing normal alternative readings are not an option. But normal reading comprehension allows alternative and even better understandings of this text.

But we don’t even have to stick with Ephesians because Paul, I think, is just simply echoing what we hear in Isaiah chapter 46.

The reader can decide for themselves if this statement is true. It does not read to me that Paul is alluding to or paralleling Isaiah.

Listen to these words. I would invite everyone this evening to go home tonight – before you go to bed tonight – go home and read Isaiah 40 through 48. It’s the trial of the false gods. And listen to what God says about Himself in those chapters and ask yourself a question: Who represented that God this evening? That would be very, very important. But listen to these words beginning in verse 8 of Isaiah 46, “Remember this and stand firm. Recall to mind you transgressors. Remember the former things of old for I am God, there is no other. I am God, there is none like Me declaring the end from the beginning. And from ancient times things not yet done.” How can God do that if the future doesn’t exist? How can God do that if He doesn’t have exhaustive knowledge of the future?

Notice White’s wildly nonsensical stand on Isaiah. God cannot say what will happen unless the future already exists? That is nonsense. White attempts to use his confident tone to trick the audience to believe him without evidence. This is a consistent debate tactic of White which written transcripts tend to counteract.

I can say the sun will rise tomorrow morning, and I am not particularly powerful or knowledgeable. How much more can God do? God can say that he will destroy the wicked and save the righteous because He is very powerful. He created the Earth, He destroyed the Earth with a flood; who can stop God? Notice how the Open Theists argue in the same fashion as Isaiah but against Calvinists. Whereas Isaiah’s audience thought God was not powerful enough to accomplish things, the Calvinist also thinks the God of the Bible is not powerful enough to accomplish things (and thus they create new attributes to make God more powerful in their own mind).

God being powerful enough to accomplish His plans is the context of Isaiah. That is not a Calvinist point. No Calvinist argues that way. In fact, the Open Theist is the one consistently having to argue this way against Calvinists. Yes, God can know and accomplish things because He is powerful. Isaiah is written from the Open Theist perspective! God is not chalking up his knowledge (something very unimpressive), God is highlighting His power.

If White were challenged to find one passage in Isaiah that Open Theists would not say without hesitation, White would not be able to do so. Pretending Isaiah is an omniscience proof text is evidence of the bankruptcy of Augustinianism. They have no better verses to quote other than ones in Isaiah that read as if written by Open Theists. The Bible does not support Augustinianism.

Saying, “My council shall stand and I will accomplish all My purpose.” Bob’s going to tell us this evening God hopes His prophecies fail. He hopes His prophecy concerning Judas would fail. And it’s okay if it did. But here God says, “My council shall stand and I will accomplish all My purpose.” That is my assertion this evening.

Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’

Context is key. The power act in context is the redemption of Israel. The text states:

Isa 45:17 But Israel shall be saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You shall not be ashamed or disgraced Forever and ever.

Chapter 45 and 46 are written to convince Israel that God can actually redeem them, and that they would be wise to believe God.

Does White believe Israel was given an everlasting salvation (from their enemies per the context)? Or was even this conditional on Israel’s faithfulness and did not happen “world without end” due to unbelief? When the context of “accomplishing purposes” is conditional on response by the people, it is not good evidence of omniscience.

Instead, the normal reading of Isaiah 46:10 is that no one is powerful enough to stop God (although it is well attested that God can change His plans when the circumstances change). God does declare the end from the beginning. Before the Exodus, God told Moses that He would lead Israel out of Egypt. Before Israel entered the Promised Land, God told them that He would lead them there (although God wanted to destroy Israel several times en route). Before Israel and Judah were captured by foreign nations, God told them what He was going to do. Before events happen, God declares why and what is going to happen. This is normal course in the Bible.

Notice in verse 17 that “God will do His pleasure”. God doesn’t know things because He mystically knows the future. God does things He wants. Notice also the very next verse:

Isa 46:11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.

Here is God’s point: I said something. I will make it happen.

Isaiah is about power, not knowledge.

I have three points to try to cram into 16 minutes. And it’s not going to be easy to do.
Point number one: The Bible directly, plainly, clearly and unalterably teaches God’s eternal nature and His absolute knowledge of all matters in time because everything that happens in time is a result of His creative decree [baseless Platonism].

This is blatantly false and demonstrably so. White will quote verses, out of context, and apply wild and nonsensical presuppositions that defy normal reading comprehension. And that is only after ignoring literally thousands of verses that depict God as living and changing.

Number two: The Bible teaches that the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the demonstration of His Deity is based upon God’s eternal nature and His knowledge of the future. They’re tied together. And I believe there are serious Christological errors in Bob Enyart’s theology. Serious Christological errors that we will need to address this evening.

Assuming White is using the unnatural Augustinian definition of “knowledge”, this is also not true. If this statement was using “knowledge” how the word is commonly used in the English language, then this statement does not prove White’s overall thesis of omniscience.

See also:
Knowledge Redefined by Calvinism

And number three my friends – and this is why this is most important – this is a gospel issue. The gospel of Jesus Christ is directly impacted by this teaching. And I will submit to you that, as we look at scripture, God’s knowledge of future events – specifically His knowledge of His people He is going to redeem – is made impossible by the open theist perspective. And therefore, the gospel itself is greatly impacted.

This is really not a Biblical argument, but an appeal to emotions. Truth is independent of what we think is fitting or preferable. If the gospel is impacted, the real question is: “Is this a real impact and does the Bible support the impact?” When White elaborates on this point, it is clear that he is operating outside the scope of normal human rationality.

Turn with me to Isaiah chapter 41. I want you to hear what God says in His inspired Word. Isaiah chapter 41, verse 21, here calling the false idols to come into the court: “Set forth your case says Yahweh. Bring your proofs says the King of Jacob.” So he’s inviting these false gods, “Come in. Set forth your arguments. Let’s hear what you have to say.” “Let them bring them…” and do what? What’s the test that God gives us in His own inspired Word for who is and who is not truly God. “Tell us what is to happen.” A true God can do this. A false god cannot. An idol cannot tell what’s going to happen. This is the very test, given to the people of God. Here is the dividing line between the true God – because He knows the future – and a false god because he does not.

That is actually not the test. This is a power contest. The challenge is: “tell me what you are going to do then make it happen.” The contest is not about knowledge, but power to accomplish prophecy. Each contestant would say what would happen and then each contestant would make it happen. This is obvious by the context (both the immediate context and the surrounding chapters).

Isa 41:23 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.

God is looking for the idols to “do good or evil” to bring about their prophecy. Good finishes this challenge by saying they are powerless:

Isa 41:24 Indeed you are nothing, And your work is nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination.

Reading compensation defeats White’s prooftext.

See also:
An overview of Isaiah 40
Understanding Isaiah 41

Then notice what else it says: “Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them that we may know their outcome. Or declare to us the things to come. Tell us what is to come hereafter that we may know that you are God.” And then he gets sarcastic. This is sarcasm. “Do good or do harm that we may be dismayed and terrified. Behold, you are nothing and your work is less than nothing. [HEBREW] an abomination is he who chooses you.” Strong words. But notice. Something is frequently missed in this text. It’s not just so clearly stating that a fundamental test of the true God is He knows the future and can tell you what’s going to happen. That’s clear. That’s obvious. But notice something else. “Tell us the former things. What they are that we may consider them and that we may know their outcome.” Folks, do you know what that means?

I do know what it means. God has predicted accomplishing His actions in the past and then God accomplished them. The Exodus is the primary power event attributed to God in the Bible. This was definitely predicted and carried out by God. God is looking for similar events for the false gods. It is easy to attribute false acts to fake gods after the event happens, but to first predict the event is something else. God is not challenging the false gods to tell them why leaves fell in a certain pattern in a tea cup. The false gods give explanations of these things all the time. God is looking for legitimate power that has been attested by history.

I had the opportunity of teaching church history in Kiev. I landed in Kiev right as the US State Department issued a travel warning: “Don’t go to Kiev.” And I was there during the revolution. And what was I there for? I was teaching church history. I’ve taught church history for many years. And historians can very often tell you what happened in the past. But very often historians cannot tell you why it happened in the past. It’s one thing to know the facts. It’s another thing to know why. And God says, “Not only can I tell you what’s going to happen in the future. I can tell you what happened in the past and why it happened.” Do you know what that means? That means there was a purpose. That means it happened according to His divine decree. There was a reason. There was a purpose. We may not know what it is. We may not know until eternity. But God knows what the purpose was. Because He is an awesome Creator. And that’s how you tell the difference between the true God and idols. And it says anyone who chooses a god who can’t do those things is themselves [to-ay-baw] an abomination. Those are strong words. Those are strong words but [GARBLED].

The context is God’s acts, not random nonsense like the Tower of Siloam (Luk 13:4). God can tell us what He did in the past and why.

See also:
Jesus was not a fatalist

Let’s look at Isaiah chapter 44, verses 6 through 8. Same section but this is where God reveals so much about Himself. Listen to what He says about Himself in verses 6 through 8 in chapter 44: “Thus says Yahweh the King of Israel and his Redeemer, Yahweh of hosts. I am the first and I am the last. Beside Me there is no God. Who is like Me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before Me since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come and what will happen. Fear not nor be afraid. Have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there a god besides Me? There is no rock. I know not any.”

Again, all this is about power. This is how an Open Theist would answer a critic (such as a Calvinist) who claims God cannot accomplish His will. This is not how a Calvinist would argue for omniscience.

You see folks, I’ve been debating this issue from the time I started ministry because the first people I dealt with were Mormons. And on an epistemological and ontological level, Bob Enyart’s theology of God’s knowledge of the future is identical to Mormonism. Finite godism is nothing new. And so when I hear these things I’m like, “Oh, wow. We need to go back to Isaiah. That’s where we’ve gone so many times before. In the context of demonstrating the one true God, what does God say? “Set forth what is going to take place.” The true prophets can do that because they serve the true God Who has exhaustive knowledge of future events.

Context is key. Isaiah is not about “total knowledge of the future” but about God being able to do what God says.

It should be added that Platonism is nothing new. Even Plato got a lot of his theology from the mystery cults. White is a modern mystery cultist. This can be demonstrated by actual quotes of White’s theological predecessors affirming Platonism. There is no need to make up false links like “open theists being similar to Jehovah’s witnesses”.

The Hellenization of Christianity

Now, I said the next thing that very much concerns me is the issue of the incarnation. Turn just one page back, probably, in your Bible to Isaiah 43:10. Or maybe, these days, just tap back. That may be the way most people are doing this. To Isaiah 43:10. This is an incredibly important text. Dealing with Mormons all the time, that last phrase “before Me no God was formed nor shall there be after Me” cuts the Mormon law of eternal progression right in half. But notice what comes before that. Isaiah 43:10 is the Bible verse from which Jehovah’s witnesses get their name. Did you know that? Notice that it says, “You are my witnesses declares Yahweh.” Or as we slaughter it in english, “Jehovah.” And my servant whom I have chosen that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He.” This is in the context of God revealing future events. And He’s chosen His servant Israel, “that they may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.” In Hebrew that’s [HEBREW]. In the Greek Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was the Bible of the New Testament Church – that is the phrase [GREEK]. I AM. Now keep your finger there and turn with me to John chapter 13. Here in the gospel of John, chapter 13 in the context of the betrayer Judas, verse 18: “I am not speaking of all of you. I know whom I have chosen but the scripture will be fulfilled.” We may need to talk about that word because Bob has a very unusual understanding of what play-ro’-o means. “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against Me.”

Enyart’s understanding of “fulfilled” is actually mainstream among anyone except evangelical Christians who have vested interest in White’s definition.

See this explanation of White’s favorite verse, Luke 22:46:
Luke 24:44-48 exposed and refuted

See also, Hebrew scholar Dr. Joel M. Hoffman.

See also:
Failed Prophecies in Matthew

Notice the citation of Old Testament text. Jesus says it’s going to be fulfilled. Then verse 19: “I am telling you this now before it takes place that when it does take place you may believe that I am He. And notice this, verse 21: “After saying these things Jesus was troubled in His Spirit and testified ‘Truly truly I say to you one of you will betray Me.”
So here’s the context. The betrayal of Judas. And notice what Jesus says in verse 19: “I am telling you this now before it takes place that when it does take place you may believe that I am He.” Sound familiar? Yeah, if you look at the Greek Septuagint and you parallel the language that’s found in Isaiah 43:10 with what’s found here in John 13:19, Jesus is drawing from Isaiah 43:10 and applying verses about Yahweh God to Himself. This is one of the places where “I AM” is used in John chapter 8 verse 24; 8:58; 13:19; and 18:5-6. John is clearly indicating in each one of these to us that these are references to the Deity of Christ. Not just the Deity of Christ. These are references to Jesus being Yahweh. And how does Jesus present this? In the context, “I’m telling you this before it happens so that when it does happen you may understand, you may believe I AM Deity. I AM Yahweh.
My esteemed opponent this evening believes that Jesus could have been wrong when He said this. “Judas could have repented. That would have been great!” And then he misrepresents us Calvinists. “Calvinists don’t like us because they think it’s terrible that a man repent.” Has nothing to do with it at all. I’ve heard him say that over and over again. Has nothing to do with it at all. Our objection is simple. Jesus can’t prove He’s Yahweh by lying. We need to know who Jesus is. And if Jesus says, “You can know Me because of this” then if Jesus is wrong we have no way of knowing who Jesus really is.

White admitted Jesus was not omniscient (Mark 13:32). So if Jesus is basing His Messiah claim on predicting the future while not knowing the future in an omniscient way, then this is a terrible proof text for Calvinism. In fact, this is evidence that someone does not have to know the future to make deity claims based on future events happening as predicted. This point is evidence against White’s claims.

White says that if Jesus was wrong, we would have no way of knowing who Jesus really is. Setting aside the unbiblical and emotional aspect of that argument, people have four entire gospels filled with the acts and deeds of Jesus. What reasonable Christian believes that if the entire book of John 8 were to disappear completely that Christians would cease to know who Jesus really was? The answer is obvious to anyone except White.

In Isaiah, one of the prime reasons that Israel was given to trust God was His history of His faithful acts. Jesus, recorded to have been crucified, buried, raised, and ascended, has plenty of reasons to believe he is who he claimed.

That’s the issue. It has nothing to do with Judas repenting. It has everything to do with God having to be true because my friends, if you want to know God is personal, if you want to know God is loving, you’ve got to first know that God is true and consistent and faithful. What if His gospel changes tomorrow? We’re without hope. We’re without hope. Fascinating.

White proffers more emotional arguments. Does White offer any evidence that the gospel will change? No. White assumes that just because it can happen than there is a probability that it will. This is the equivalent to saying “Consider your wife. How can you be sure she won’t stab you to death in your sleep unless you believe she does not have that physical capability?” Not only does the argument make zero logical sense (believing a wife cannot stab you doesn’t change whether or not she actually can), but White disregards all normal trust relationship standards. Only in a Calvinist mindset must someone believe that someone else cannot possibly change in any detail to be trustworthy.

Well, very little time left. Turn with me please to Acts chapter 2. Acts chapter 2, verse 23 we read these words. Let’s begin in verse 22, “Men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth a Man attested to you by God with mighty wonders and works and signs that God did through Him in your midst as you yourselves know. This Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. The cross was not something that came along later in God’s thinking.

When Calvinists see the word “foreknowledge” or “predestined” they automatically assume that this means “from eternity past”. That is not a reasonable view. Contrary to the Calvinist understanding, both words have built in an assumption of a past event. God did not always know or predestine. God foreknew or predestined at some point in the past. These words are anti-omniscience.

To illustrate this: the verb form of the word is used in conjunction with human beings:

2Pe 3:17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;

Does White believe that Christians knew from eternity past the context of Peter’s point (to remain righteous)? White’s standards of interpretation reject normal reading comprehension and assume all sorts of wild presuppositions.

I debated a scholar of this subject by the name of John Sanders a number of years ago. And Dr. Sanders, a consistent open theist, believes that when God created He did not know that Adam would fall. In fact, He was shocked. He was surprised. He didn’t know it was going to happen. And that means when God created he had no idea that you would ever exist. None. Because you are the result of thousands of free-will choices. So God could never know that you would exist. And so He couldn’t know what was going to happen. He created all the potentiality of all this evil. But He had no purpose to show that He’s good and loving and personal. But all that evil? All that stuff that He didn’t know would happen but it just sort of took place? And so then He has to find a way to solve this problem.

The funny thing is that the Bible records God’s solution to finding out how wicked the world had become. It needs to be stressed that there are very explicit Biblical events that have to be denied by White. White speaks as if they never occurred.

In Genesis 6 we see God repenting of making man. God had decided that if He had known that man would become that wicked that God would never had created them. This is exactly how the text reads:

Gen 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Gen 6:6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Gen 6:7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

God then performs a global reset, showing that God did truly repent of making the world. He destroys not only man, but birds, trees, animals, and the entire world’s terrain. This was God showing He regretted creating the world (the text is explicit). God did not foreknow that individuals would exist who were that evil and wicked. God repented when He saw the end result of His creation. God does not foreknow all individuals from eternity past.

White rejects normal reading comprehension to deny Genesis 6. White argues that the repentance in Genesis 6 is more of a “deep grief”, but the repentance more fits the normal use of the word such as in Jonah:

Jon 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

In Genesis 6, God repents of making man after seeing how wicked they have become, and proceeds to destroy them all. No, God did not know how evil man would become. God did not have an eternal purpose for every single evil act. God hates evil.

See also:
God Responds to Rejection (On Genesis 6)

So we have the cross, right? And yet according to Acts chapter 2, “This Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” Well, you can’t have foreknowledge if you don’t have knowledge of the fore. And so God has a definite plan. And the cross has been a part of that plan. In fact, as Peter tells us, it speaks of Jesus, “the lamb slain for our salvation foreknown before the creation of the world.”

“Plans” are exactly what God has. The normal operation of plans is that they are planned before the events in question. In that way all “plans” are foreordained or foreknown or predestined. Here is one of God’s foreordained plans after the actors rejected him:

1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

Notice that God had a plan, people changed, and then God revoked His plan. In this case the plan was for the family line to walk before Him “forever”. If White were to argue in the same fashion against this verse he might say: “If God revoked His plan (the plan that He stated would last ‘forever’) then we can no longer trust God. In order for us to trust God then God’s eternal decrees must come to pass. God can state that He knows what will happen eternally because God controls the future.”

Notice that the face value reading of the Bible defeats all White’s arguments (if the reader thinks they are straw man arguments they can skim White’s various comments about the crucifixion, predestination, and foreknowledge).

God makes it explicit throughout the Bible that His plans are contingent on the actions of human beings:

Jer 18:7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,
Jer 18:8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.
Jer 18:9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,
Jer 18:10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.

If God plans something, that plan will not come to pass if the people/conditions change. God will not do things He thought to do, and God will not do things He said He will do. The text is explicit.

Furthermore, White assume many unfounded concepts into the normal language of the Bible:

1Pe 1:20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

There are plenty of the possibilities for the exact thing that was “foreordained”:

1. The crucifixion (that Jesus would die on a cross at around 30 years of age in the first century AD after being slapped by someone who then mocks him). This is improbable. What contextual evidence suggests this?
2. A redeemer (that Jesus would redeem people in some fashion). That is the context of the quote.
3. Everything and anything in between.

Normal plans do not contain minute detail, but are dynamic to fit the circumstances. If Jesus had avoided the cross, as Jesus asked God to do (Luk 22:42), does White think the foreordained plan would be foiled? If so, White must believe Jesus wanted a foreordained plan to be foiled. If 1 Peter is read normally, no plan would have been thwarted by Jesus avoiding the cross. Jesus could have been a redeemer in some other fashion.

See also:
The Crucifixion Was Not a Fixed Event

The early church believed this. Look at Acts chapter 4, verses 27 through 28. It’s so clear in their preaching for truly in this city there gathered together against Your holy Servant Jesus whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilot with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel.” Look at all those people involved there. Think of all the different motivations in Herod’s mind and Pilot’s mind and the Jew’s mind and the Roman’s mind. Herod was a nut. Pilot was a coward. The Jewish leaders hated Jesus because He kept exposing them. And the Roman soldiers were just getting their pay and doing their thing. All of them have all sorts of different motivations. But was there any uncertainty about the crucifixion? Was there any uncertainty about the crucifixion? No because look at what it says: “…to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.”

Act 4:27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together
Act 4:28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

Throughout the Bible, God gathers together enemies to do His bidding. How does this even relate to omniscience, immutability, or any other unspecific point White is attempting to make? All this takes is power to manipulate, something no Open Theist denies. It takes a Calvinist thinking God is weak to believe someone cannot happen unless it is fixed in minute detail since eternity past.

Again, future questions arise in this passage about God’s “purpose determined before”:

When was this purpose determined? Normal reading comprehension would say “at the point that Herod, Pilate and the Gentiles were gathered together or shortly before”.

What was the scope of God’s determination? Did God just determine to use them to affect a redemption plan or did God determine all sorts of micromanagement such as Pilate, Herod, and the Gentiles rejecting God? Would James and Peter ever argue that people were fated to reject God? It is clear that the plan was general and God uses His enemies to affect His goals.

There’s the faith of the early church. That’s why Christians have always believed what Christians have believed about the unchanging nature of God, His purposes, His intentions. You see, what we believe is that God is eternal but, you see, He has decreed in the creation of this universe to enter into a relationship with His people. It’s a personal relationship. It’s an intimate relationship.

When White states that God is unchanging and that God is relational, White is talking contradictions. White never explains how this works. Instead White describes God changing, then states God doesn’t change, and then White states that God is relational and unchanging.

It’s all a part of His decree. He decrees in the creation of time to enter into time in the Person of Jesus Christ and to also interact with His Spirit with His people [baseless Platonism].

How does God create time although being outside of time? Where would God find the time to create time? When during God’s timelessness can time come into existence? It all makes zero sense. White believes he can state blatant contradictions in a confident manner and that would make them true. Nowhere in the Bible describes God as outside of time. Everywhere in the Bible describes God as relating to time, affected by time, acting in time, and responding in time.

So you see, the only way that there can be a contradiction there is if you squish God down to someone who looks like us. If you insist that, “Well, He either has to be timeless and He’s Plato’s cold, stone idol, or He has to be a person like us and experiences time.” What if He’s bigger than either one of those?

White fails to explain how that is an intellectual possibility. White tries to claim that God is relational and immutable. Normal readers might be inclined to think about a relationship with a pet rock. White instead wants his cake and to eat it to. White describes God changing, claims God is relational, states that God does not change, then claims it is not a contradiction. Later in the debate, White denies the incarnation was a change in God. It is all nonsense.

What if He exists outside of time [baseless Platonism], creates time and interacts with us in time and demonstrates His love for us by the second Person of the Trinity entering into human flesh (which does not create a change in the Being of God)? You have to have a very wrong Christology to come up with that idea. What if He does that? That’s exactly what the Bible says He did. That’s exactly what the early church – they recognized in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to do whatever Your hand and Your plan predestined to take place.

God does not exist “outside of time”, which is a non-concept. All verses White would quote to make this case actually make the opposite point. Additional, the incarnation is the ultimate change. When one’s theology denies the fundamental belief of Christianity, it may not be a very good theology. Notice the change:

Joh 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Change in God is fundamental throughout the Bible. One of God’s primary traits is being “living”. God recoils in horror at unchanging stone idols (in White’s prooftext of Isaiah 40-48 no less).

See also:
Is God in Time?
Presentism in the Bible
Verses on God is Living

Now I have two minutes. Two and a half minutes is ridiculous but here we go. Romans chapter eight. Let me just make a few comments as to how this is a gospel issue. You see it’s a gospel issue because it has to do with the very crucifixion of Jesus Christ Himself.

White denies very apparent things about the crucifixion.

See:
The Crucifixion Was Not a Fixed Event

But now let’s look at some other aspects. But I’m only going to be able to touch on a few. Verse 29. Well, verse 28: “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.” That is so personal my friends. That is so personal. God has to be in control of the future to make that promise come true.

Notice the irrational bait and switch. White does this throughout his teaching. If God works things for good, does this necessitate that God has meticulous control of the future to include future child rape? No, but White wants to couple his baseless assertions next to Bible verses to trick the audience that he is being Biblical.

Besides these points, alternative translations of this passage may explicitly contradict Calvinism.

See also:
We Work All Things Together With God

That has been the bulwark of the hope of God’s people for two thousand years. But notice the application: “…for those he foreknew.” Wait a minute. For the open theist God didn’t know you were going to exist. God had no idea. You’re the result of all sorts of free-will actions of men. God didn’t know you were going to exist. So He couldn’t have foreknown you.

The context is actually the readers of Romans. This was not about distant past or distant future generations. This is Paul encouraging his readers to endure to an imminent apocalypse.

See also:
Misquoted Verses – All Things Work Together for Good

You see, you end up with an impersonal concept of salvation where God simply chooses a nameless, faceless group and then we fill it in by what we do, by our belief, by our repentance, whatever else it might be. It becomes impersonal just like the cross becomes impersonal.

Note the emotional appeal. White is convinced his listener will reject Christ’s death for whosoever believes on Christ in favor of Christ dying for only specific and named individuals. All other individuals have been eternally damned. It is a sadistic and anti-Biblical theology. Contrary to that, the Bible states:

Joh 3:16 For God so loved [loved in this fashion] the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

See also:
The Context of John 3:16

Because you see, I believe that the elect were united with Christ in His death. So His death becomes my death. His resurrection becomes my resurrection. My name was written on His hands. Not for the open theist. My name didn’t exist yet. At the crucifixion Jesus didn’t know I’d exist. How could my name be on His hands? It becomes impersonal. That changes the gospel my friends.

None of these are Biblical quotes. They are theological speculation on White’s part. None of his speculation contradicts Open Theism except God knowing the names of everyone in the future who would be saved (and consequently, people who have not been born who are fated to hellfire).

“Those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” And notice the golden chain. “And those whom He predestined He also called. Those whom He called He also justified. Those whom He justified he also glorified.” It’s the same group all the way through. And it’s personal, my friends. You do not justify nameless, faceless groups.

Sometimes justification is based on group identity, such as Israel’s continual punishment and salvation throughout the Old Testament on a corporate basis. In Romans 11, merely three chapters later, Paul specifically states that corporate Israel was “foreknown” as God’s people:

Rom 11:2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel…

Rom 11:5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Notice that a remnant of the foreknown people will be saved, those who accept God. The remnant comment would not make sense if those “foreknown” were limited to just the saved. Foreknowledge is corporate. White does not have an argument besides “trust me, individual foreknowledge sounds a lot nicer.”

As stated before, foreknowledge and predestine both do not have specific timeframes. Predestination could happen yesterday or a hundred years ago. White assumes, against reason, that predestination is from eternity past. This is not how the word operates. There is some time at which God must preknow or predestine. That is the natural meaning of the word.

And that is why the apostle could then say, “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us who can be against us? It’s personal. And that requires God’s knowledge of the future. The God of the Bible says, “I am with the first. I am with the last.” Why? Because by His grand creative power He has created all things including everything that happens in time [baseless Platonism]. Time itself [baseless Platonism]. And the glorious thing is then condescended to enter into experience with us in time. And especially in the Person of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your attention.

White is not a Biblical scholar. Instead, White is a Platonist apologist who tries to use his Platonistic assumptions to wildly read Bible verses in new and crazy ways. White first forms contradictory and Platonistic theology in his mind, and then attempts to wrestle all Bible verses out of context to fit his assumptions. When listening to White, it is very apparent he is not interested in figuring out what the original author was attempting to communicate to his original audience. White abandons normal reading comprehension, and assumes normal reading comprehension is not a viable explanation of the text. White wants Platonism, whether or not the Bible fits his theology. When White states he is interested in Biblical theology, it should be discounted as a lie.

Enyart on Calvinism Being Evil

From Bob Enyart’s debate with Gene Cook:

Enyart: You assert God has decreed that a five year old boy would be sodomized for how many minutes on what video sold to who. That that was God’s plan… Do you assert that God foreordained how many minutes a five year old boy would be sodomized on a child porn video. What that God’s plan?

Cook: Bob I have already affirmed that whatever comes to past… I am saying every detail of human being…

Calvin on Genesis 6:6

From Calvin’s commentary on Genesis:

6. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth The repentance which is here ascribed to God does not properly belong to him, but has reference to our understanding of him. For since we cannot comprehend him as he is, it is necessary that, for our sakes he should, in a certain sense, transform himself. That repentance cannot take place in God, easily appears from this single considerations that nothing happens which is by him unexpected or unforeseen. The same reasoning, and remark, applies to what follows, that God was affected with grief. Certainly God is not sorrowful or sad; but remains forever like himself in his celestial and happy repose: yet, because it could not otherwise be known how great is God’s hatred and detestation of sin, therefore the Spirit accommodates himself to our capacity. Wherefore, there is no need for us to involve ourselves in thorny and difficult questions, when it is obvious to what end these words of repentance and grief are applied; namely, to teach us, that from the time when man was so greatly corrupted, God would not reckon him among his creatures; as if he would say, ‘This is not my workmanship; this is not that man who was formed in my image, and whom I had adorned with such excellent gifts: I do not deign now to acknowledge this degenerate and defiled creature as mine.’ Similar to this is what he says, in the second place, concerning grief; that God was so offended by the atrocious wickedness of men, as if they had wounded his heart with mortal grief: There is here, therefore, an unexpressed antithesis between that upright nature which had been created by God, and that corruption which sprung from sin. Meanwhile, unless we wish to provoke God, and to put him to grief, let us learn to abhor and to flee from sin. Moreover, this paternal goodness and tenderness ought, in no slight degree, to subdue in us the love of sin; since God, in order more effectually to pierce our hearts, clothes himself with our affections. This figure, which represents God as transferring to himself what is peculiar to human nature, is called ἀνθρωποπάθεια

White Believes Jesus Has Two Natures

This blog has claimed James White is a dishonest person before. The aftermath of the debate shows more evidence. From a private Facebook page:

Josh Craddock 
DURING the debate: [Q: “Did God the Son go from one nature to two natures?”] “He took on a human nature, yes.” [“Isn’t God the Son today and forever in the future, doesn’t he have two natures, a divine and a human nature, forever?”] “Yes.” [“So you agree that eternally past God the Son only had one nature?”] “Of course.” [“And today God the Son has two natures?”] “That’s correct.”

AFTER the debate: “Bob misrepresented me…God the Son does not have two natures. I did not ‘admit’ that He did/does/will etc.”

There’s no question about what’s going on here. James White is now regretting his candid answers about the nature of Christ in the debate. Instead of admitting that he misspoke or did not accurately articulate his belief, he resorts to his typical tactic of claiming that Bob is misrepresenting his position. That’s just shameful.

Clement of Alexandria on Predestination

In Stromata, Clement claims that God has no sensory perceptions, knows the future as if it were the present, and makes all things happen:

God is not, then, possessed of human form, so as to hear; nor needs He senses, as the Stoics have decided, “especially hearing and sight; for He could never otherwise apprehend.” But the susceptibility of the air, and the intensely keen perception of the angels, and the power which reaches the soul’s consciousness, by ineffable power and without sensible hearing, know all things at the moment of thought. And should any one say that the voice does not reach God, but is rolled downwards in the air, yet the thoughts of the saints cleave not the air only, but the whole world. And the divine power, with the speed of light, sees through the whole soul. Well! Do not also volitions speak to God, uttering their voice? And are they not conveyed by conscience? And what voice shall He wait for, who, according to His purpose, knows the elect already, even before his birth, knows what is to be as already existent? Does not the light of power shine down to the very bottom of the whole soul; “the lamp of knowledge,” as the Scripture says, searching “the recesses”? God is all ear and all eye, if we may be permitted to use these expressions.

Logical Proof on Perfection

A classical theists attempts to “prove” God’s infinite perfection:

233. Thesis II. God is infinitely perfect.

Explanation. We mean by a perfection any real entity, anything which it is better to have than not to have. A being is infinitely perfect when it has all possible entity in the highest possible degree. It is clear at once that God, being the cause of the world, must have all the perfections that are actually in the world; for there can be no perfection in the effect which is not in the cause. But besides, He must have, we maintain, all perfections that are intrinsically possible, i.e., all that imply no contradiction. We must, however, distinguish between pure perfections — i.e., such as imply no imperfection, e.g., knowledge, goodness, justice, power, etc.; and mixed perfections — i.e., such as imply some imperfection, e.g., reasoning, which implies that some truth was first unknown. Now, we mean that God has all pure perfections formally or as such, and the mixed He possesses eminently, i.e., in a better way, without any imperfections.

Proof. Whatever the necessary Being is, it is that necessarily; but God is the necessary Being; therefore, whatever He is, He is that necessarily. Therefore, if there is any limit to His perfection, that limit is necessary; i.e., further perfection is excluded by the very nature of His physical essence; in other words, the entity or perfection of His being would exclude some further perfection. But no perfection excludes other perfection, or is incompatible with further perfection; there can be no contradiction between good and good, entity and entity, but only between good and not good, entity and non-entity, perfection and imperfection. Therefore no perfection can exclude any other perfection; hence no perfection is excluded either in kind or in degree; therefore God is infinitely perfect.

Olson on Limited Atonement

From Against Calvinism:

What about other Calvinists? Do they affirm this limited atonement doctrine as Boettner did (and perhaps Calvin did not)? John Piper definitely affirms it: “He [Christ] did not die for all men in the same sense. The intention of the death of Christ for the children of God [the elect] was that it purchased far more than the rising of the sun and the opportunity to be saved . The death of Christ actually saves from All evil those for whom Christ died ‘especially.’” Sproul definitely affirms it. He prefers to call this doctrine “purposeful atonement”: “The atonement’s ultimate purpose is found in the ultimate purpose or will of God. This purpose or design does not include the entire human race. If it did, the entire human race would surely be redeemed.”

Olson on Calvin’s Unconditional Election

From Against Calvinism:

What did Calvin say? Did he believe in this double predestination, including God’s sovereign reprobation of certain human persons to hell ? He wrote: “God once established by his eternal and unchangeable plan those whom he long before determined once for all to receive into salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, he would devote to destruction .” Lest anyone misunderstand him, Calvin drove his point home by ridiculing those who accept election but reject reprobation, calling that an “absurd” notion: “Therefore, those whom God passes over, he condemns; and this he does for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his own children.” Calvin notoriously recognized and affirmed the highly objectionable character of this double predestination and especially the reprobation side of it, calling it “the horrible decree.”

Apologetics Thursday – Et Tu, Brute

Y tu, brute

William Lane Craig lists an answer to Open Theist’s claims that Calvinists rely on dignum deo over the Bible:

1. Openists have their own conception of what is dignum deo, and they don’t hesitate to draw on it when the Scriptures are silent. For example, if the openists are right that the Bible doesn’t clearly teach exhaustive omniscience with respect to the future, it’s no less true that it doesn’t clearly teach exhaustive omniscience with respect to the past and present; yet openists accept the latter. Why? Presumably because ignorance of any detail of the past and present would not be dignum deo.

The main problem with this as an answer to the Open Theist’s objection is that it really does not answer the objection at all. Instead, the argument is “well, you too.” There is a formal name for the fallacy known as the Tu quoque fallacy. Wikipedia sums the fallacy up nicely: “To clarify, although the person being attacked might indeed be acting inconsistently or hypocritically, such behavior does not invalidate the position presented.”

If two criminals were talking, one might say to the other: “You are a thief, you need to repent.”
The second might respond: “You are a thief too”.

Notice though that the second point does not answer the first. Thieves need to repent, regardless as to who says it.

William Lane Craig offers his remarks as the only answer to the Openness objection to Dignum Deo. It would be fine if Craig offered up compelling reasons for his belief and then added that Openness advocates were hypocrites, but focusing on the hypocrisy rather than the point is avoiding the real issues. In fact, some Open Theists do “accept the later” and by Craig avoiding the point, he successfully avoids answering a legitimate objection raised by consistent Open Theists.

Olson on Calvin’s Fatalism

From Against Calvinism:

Virtually all Calvinists (as distinct from some in the Reformed tradition and especially what I have called “revisionist Reformed” theologians) affirm a strong or high view of God’s sovereignty such as Boettner’s. Did Calvin himself affirm such? In Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Geneva’s chief pastor wrote about God’s providence: “We ought undoubtedly to hold that whatever changes are discerned in the world are produced from the secret stirring of God’s hand … what God has determined must necessarily so take place.” 3 The surrounding context, including a vivid illustration about a merchant robbed and killed by thieves, makes absolutely clear that Calvin believed nothing at all can happen that is not foreordained and rendered certain by God. He says that a Christian will realize that nothing is truly an accident, as everything is planned by God.

Olson on Standing Against Calvinism

From Against Calvinism:

I believe someone needs finally to stand up and in love firmly say “no!” to egregious statements about God’s sovereignty often made by Calvinists. Taken to their logical conclusion, that even hell and all who will suffer there eternally are foreordained by God, God is thereby rendered morally ambiguous at best and a moral monster at worst. I have gone so far as to say that this kind of Calvinism, which attributes everything to God’s will and control, makes it difficult (at least for me) to see the difference between God and the devil.

Apologetics Thrusday – Answering Geisler Part 3

By Christopher Fisher

At the end of Norman Geisler’s book Creating God in the Image of Man?, he lists “12 objections to a finite God”. It will be shown that Geisler focuses on extra-Biblical arguments and ignores the witness of the Bible when formulating his objections. This post will discuss questions 9-12:

9. How can anyone worship a God who is so helpless that he not only does not control what happens in the world but he cannot even “call the whole thing off”? Is not such a God so paralyzed as to be perilous?

In Genesis 6, God enacts a global reset. God’s strong regret in making mankind leads to the destruction of all living flesh save a family whose patriarch found grace in the “eyes of God”. No Open Theist would doubt that God could “call the whole thing off”. In fact, God got extremely close to doing just that.

The God of the Bible is not “paralyzed”. When God has regrets, He performs powerful acts to quell those regrets.

10. How can a God who is identical with the world (in his actuality) be genuinely personal when he is identical with us?

Geisler’s obsession with Greek philosophy leads him to questions on God’s “actuality”. Geisler’s philosophy equates a God that can change with being “identical with us”. Such are the strange ramblings of Platonism.

God, while dynamically attempting to convince the people to change and save themselves, argues that “His thoughts are not our thoughts” and “His ways are not our ways” (Isa 55:8). This is the exact opposite of saying God is immutable. God is saying that He has thoughts and ways (in Geisler’s terminology: “God has potentiality”). While God is not like mankind, it is in the understanding of magnitude (not type). God obviously compares to man in the sense that both have thoughts and ways and power, but none can compete with God.

11. How can a God be morally perfect when he is engaged in a self-character-building activity at our expense in his efforts to overcome evil?

God created the world for mankind, not for some character building activity:

Isa 45:18 For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.

God made man for the same reason that people have children: relationships. Geisler, being a Platonist, obsesses about self-glory. In his mindset, the only utility of creation is God’s own glory. That is not a Biblical concept.

12. How can one avoid making individual evil illusory by saying that victory over evil is really God’s vicarious triumph in us?

God can have victory over evil in a myriad of ways. But because God made the world for man, “defeating evil” is not the primary goal of creation. This is another Platonist invention. The purpose of “defeating evil” is so that God’s relationship with man can be better. “Victory over evil” doesn’t even have to be attributed to anyone (that is another Platonistic concept).

Conclusion:

Geisler’s 12 Objections to a finite God show Geisler’s obsession with Platonic philosophy and his manifest departure from the Bible.

Apologetics Thrusday – Answering Geisler Part 2

By Christopher Fisher

At the end of Norman Geisler’s book Creating God in the Image of Man?, he lists “12 objections to a finite God”. It will be shown that Geisler focuses on extra-Biblical arguments and ignores the witness of the Bible when formulating his objections. This post will discuss questions 5-8:

5. How can a limited God who does not control the actual events of this world provide any real assurance that there will be grow of value?

This question is loaded with faulty assumptions. Reality is not based on what an individual wants to be true or reasons to be “better” than other things. Reality is based in fact. Why does this question assume that there necessarily needs to be “growth in value”? Based on what?

Why does Geisler’s question, likewise, just assume a powerful (but not meticulously controlling) God cannot increase the value in this world? In the Bible, God does not control everything but God gains significant pleasure from those who serve Him. The Bible even describes God so enamored with man, that God exults man. It sounds like value is increasing to God.

6. What value to present individuals is a promise of serial appearance of the maximal amount of value? This is like promising a million dollars to a family over the next 1,000 generations.

Why does Geisler think this is a real question? Why must individuals have “present value” which leads to “maximal value”. The concepts are ill defined and smell of Platonism. Again, nothing necessitates that things have to move to better or even maximal value.

7. How could such a God be given “absolute admiration” (cf. Hartshorne) as retainer of all past value when: (a) This stored value is not experienced by any actual entity and (b) This is mere preservation without any assurance of progress?

Again, Geisler’s questions are based on ill defined logic and a host of faulty assumptions. How does one define “stored value” and why must God be given that stored value? The Bible does not describe such nonsense. This question reeks of Platonism.

8. How can a finite God be morally worthy who allows all the pain of this world in order ot enrich his own aesthetic value? Is all this evil worth it merely for beauty’s sake?

Does God allow pain to enrich “his own aesthetic value”. Because Platonists like Geisler are obsessed with glory, they fail to see God has God describes Himself in the Bible. God sings to man in the Bible. God is not concerned about hording all known value for Himself. God’s purpose in man was not to “increase his own aesthetic value”. God’s purpose was to have a relationship.

Merritt Calls Neo-Calvinism Isolated

By Jonathan Merritt:

One of the markers of the neo-Calvinist movement is isolationism. My Reformed friends consume Calvinist blogs and Calvinist books, attend Calvinist conferences, and join Calvinist churches with Calvinist preachers. They rarely learn from or engage with those outside their tradition. (My feeling is that this trend is less prevalent among leaders than the average followers.)

The most sustainable religious movements, however, are those which are willing to ask hard, full-blooded questions while interacting with more than caricatures of other traditions. When neo-Calvinists insulate and isolate, they hyper-focus on those doctrines their tradition emphasizes and relegate other aspects to the status of afterthought. The Christian faith is meant to be lived and not merely intellectually appropriated. This requires mingling with others who follow Jesus, are rooted in Scripture, and are working toward a restored creation.

Geisler on Impassibility

From Norman Geisler’s Creating God in the Image of Man? :

God is without passion. For passion implies desire for what one does not have. But God, as an absolutely perfect being, has everything. He lacks nothing. For in order to lack something he would need to have a potentiality to possess it. But God is pure actuality, as we have said, with no potentiality whatsoever. Therefor, God has no passion for anything. He is completely and infinitely perfect in himself.

Morrell Defines TULIP

From Jesse Morrell’s blog Biblical Truth Resources:

TULIP is the system of Calvinism. It is an acronym for their doctrines:

T: Total Depravity – the total inability of a sinner to repent and believe. No free will

U: Unconditional Election – In eternities past God chose a few for salvation (not because they repented and believed) and consequently chose most for damnation (not because they sinned). Eternal election and reprobation is not conditional upon what man does, but upon God’s eternal decree. Since man is totally incapable of choosing to repent and believe, God must choose who to give repentance to and who to keep in impenitence.

L: Limited Atonement – Jesus only died for those whom God elected for salvation. He did not die for everyone. If He died for everyone, they argue, everyone would be saved because the atonement is automatically and unconditionally saving in its nature.

I: Irresistible Grace – those whom God has chosen and for whom Christ died are drawn by the irresistible grace of God. They cannot help but to come to Christ.

P: Perseverance of the Saints – those whom God has unconditionally elected, who are automatically saved by the atonement, who are drawn by the irresistible grace of God, will necessarily persevere unto the end. They cannot help but to remain saved. If someone falls away from the faith, that means that they were never truly in the faith to begin with – they were never truly saved.

Apologetics Thrusday – Answering Geisler Part 1

By Christopher Fisher

At the end of Norman Geisler’s book Creating God in the Image of Man?, he lists “12 objections to a finite God”. It will be shown that Geisler focuses on extra-Biblical arguments and ignores the witness of the Bible when formulating his objections. This post will discuss the first 4:

1. How can a finite (limited) God achieve a better world? The fixity of physical laws and the persistence of evil over the thousands of years of human history argues against this kind of God ever achieving a better world than the present one.

Answer. If God wanted to create a better world, certainly He is capable enough to achieve it. In Genesis 6, we see God completing a global reset. This is just one of the countless avenues open to God. God has legions of angels, some of which can kill countless people by themselves. In Revelation 9:16, 4 angels kill a third of mankind. In 2 Kings 19:35, one angel kills 185,000 people overnight. In addition to this global reset and the amazing power of angels, God has available to Him countless other options that are not readily apparent to myself (and obviously not Geisler). For Geisler to consider this a real question, he is investing absolutely zero integrity in representing that which he wants to critique.

2. Given his limitations, why did this finite God who could not overcome evil engage in such a wasteful attempt as this world?

Who says this “attempt” was wasteful. In James 2:23, Abraham is represented as a “friend of God”. If God’s goal was a relationship, it was at least achieved through Abraham if not countless other individuals in history. What Geisler avoids at all costs in Genesis 6, wherein God entertains the idea of killing all mankind due to unforeseen wickedness. After the flood, God resolves to never again destroy all of mankind, and God’s reason is the exact same reason that God destroyed man in the first place “that man’s heart was evil from his youth”. This is God changing His tolerances and what He expects out of humankind. Compare:

Gen 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Gen 6:6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

And

Gen 8:21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.

This does not make sense in light of what Geisler would have the reader believe about God. Only in light of an Open God does this make sense.

3. How can evil be absorbed into the nature of God? Isn’t this strange, dualistic combination of good and evil in God inherently incoherent?

This is an inherently incoherent question. What evil is being “absorbed” into the “nature” of God? What does “absorbed” mean as used? What would be wrong about “absorbing” evil, in the first place? Because theologians go down black holes with their incoherent theology, questions like these are the output.

4. How can a finite God accomplish a better world by way of the cooperation of human beings when the vast majority of them seem almost totally unaware of his purposes?

God, in the Bible, tries several routes. God in Genesis begins by reaching out to all mankind. God walks and talks with Adam. But things go awry. God then ties a global reset in Genesis 6, but still that does not seem to work. God then chooses one man through whom God would bless the nations (Gen 18:18). But that also fails. In Romans 9, Paul describes the graphing in of the Gentiles to “provoke the Jews the jealousy”. In short, Geisler rejects the Bible witness of God’s various attempts (mostly failed) to cooperate with human beings. But God is innovative and continually strives to reach out and find new opportunities to cooperate. After all:

We work all things together with God, after the console of His will.

Calvinists on Arminians

Wesleyan Arminian rounds up some good quotes by Calvinists against Arminians. A few:

Charles Spurgeon: And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.

John Piper: Here’s my rule of thumb: the more responsible a person is to shape the thoughts of others about God, the less Arminianism should be tolerated. Therefore church members should not be excommunicated for this view but elders and pastors and seminary and college teachers should be expected to hold the more fully biblical view of grace.

Reasons to Remain a Calvinist

User gmm4Jesus of http://www.christianforums.com lists 5 reasons to remain a Calvinist. Abbreviated:

1. If becoming an Arminian would really be a temptation to boast for you, then please remain a Calvinist.

2. If you think that God empowering people to accept or reject Jesus somehow makes Him weak, impotent, or powerless, then you really should continue in your Calvinism.

3. If you actually think that God cannot remain sovereign without dictating the minutia of every event that occurs, then by all means, remain a Calvinist.

4. If you actually believe that accepting a freely-given gift of salvation somehow would make you your own “co-savior,” then please don’t abandon your Calvinism.

5. If adopting an Arminian view of salvation would somehow make you really feel that salvation is “man-centered” rather than “God-centered,” then for God’s sake, hold on to your Calvinism.

HT: The Contemporary Calvinist

Calvinist Claims not to be a Fatalist

From Shane Kastler:

Fatalism is the belief that since all things are pre-determined, it matters not what man does. At it’s root, fatalism is more of a secular, or even pagan notion. A belief that “fate” has determined the outcome of all things and thus nothing can be changed. While a Calvinist does indeed believe that God ordains whatever comes to pass, the attributing factor is clearly seen as being different from what a fatalist would say. Calvinists don’t attribute anything to a blind fate, but rather an all-seeing God. The Bible tells us that God “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11); so ultimately we see God as the sovereign creator, ordainer, sustainer, and author of all life and history. What we do with this knowledge determines whether or not we are fatalistic.

For full post, click here.

HT: The Contemporary Calvinist