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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.