an overview of neo-platonism

Neo-Platonists during the first few centuries AD would never call themselves Neo-Platonists. To them they were just Platonists, teaching the teachings of Platonism. They expanded Platonism, as described in my previous article, developing the attributes of the Summum Bonum, their concept of god (Plotinus often just calls god “the Good” or “the One”). Neo-Platonists greatly expanding on the Platonic ascent.

The most famous of the Neo-Platonists was Plotinus, who was taught by Ammonius Saccas. Augustine gained the majority of his Platonism from the essays of Plotinus, and Augustine’s statements concerning theology closely mirror Plotinus’ work. Besides the terms used for god, Augustine often can be confused with Plotinus.

To Plotinus, god was the Summum Bonum. He writes in his Enneads:

1. We can scarcely conceive that for any entity the Good can be other than the natural Act expressing its life-force, or in the case of an entity made up of parts the Act, appropriate, natural and complete, expressive of that in it which is best.

From this concept of being the ultimate good, Plotinus developed the attributes that are now attributed to the God of the Bible: perfection, immutability, simplicity, omnipresence, timelessness, unknownability, and omnipotence.

On perfection:

If The First is perfect, utterly perfect above all, and is the beginning of all power, it must be the most powerful of all that is, and all other powers must act in some partial imitation of it.

On immutability:

Now, if all aspiration and Act whatsoever are directed towards the Good, it follows that the Essential-Good neither need nor can look outside itself or aspire to anything other than itself: it can but remain unmoved, as being, in the constitution of things, the wellspring and firstcause of all Act: whatsoever in other entities is of the nature of Good cannot be due to any Act of the Essential-Good upon them; it is for them on the contrary to act towards their source and cause. The Good must, then, be the Good not by any Act, not even by virtue of its Intellection, but by its very rest within Itself.

On simplicity:

If we define it as The Good and the wholly simplex, we will, no doubt, be telling the truth, but we will not be giving any certain and lucid account of it as long as we have in mind no entity in which to lodge the conception by which we define it.


Even in calling it “The First” we mean no more than to express that it is the most absolutely simplex: it is the Self-Sufficing only in the sense that it is not of that compound nature which would make it dependent upon any constituent; it is “the Self-Contained” because everything contained in something alien must also exist by that alien.

On unknowability:

Thus The One is in truth beyond all statement: any affirmation is of a thing; but the all-transcending, resting above even the most august divine Mind, possesses alone of all true being, and is not a thing among things; we can give it no name because that would imply predication:


Once you have uttered ‘The Good,’ add no further thought: by any addition, and in proportion to that addition, you introduce a deficiency.

On Omnipresence (outside of special limitations):

The authentic and primal Kosmos is the Being of the Intellectual Principle and of the Veritable Existent. This contains within itself no spatial distinction, and has none of the feebleness of division, and even its parts bring no incompleteness… every part that it gives forth is a whole; all its content is its very own, for there is here no separation of thing from thing, no part standing in isolated existence estranged from the rest, and therefore nowhere is there any wronging of any other, any opposition. Everywhere one and complete, it is at rest throughout and shows difference at no point; it does not make over any of its content into any new form; there can be no reason for changing what is everywhere perfect.

On timelessness:

The phrase “He was good” refers to the Idea of the All; and its very indefiniteness signifies the utter absense of relation to Time: so that even this Universe has had no temporal beginning; and if we speak of something “before” it, that is only in the sense of the Cause from which it takes its Eternal Existence. Plato used the word merely for the convenience of exposition, and immediately corrects it as inappropriate to the order vested with the Eternity he conceives and affirms.

On Omnipotence:

We are forced to ask how such things can be, under a Providence. Certainly a maker must consider his work as a whole, but none the less he should see to the due ordering of all the parts, especially when these parts have Soul, that is, are Living and Reasoning Beings: the Providence must reach to all the details; its functioning must consist in neglecting no point.

No: the Reason-Principle is the sovereign, making all: it wills things as they are and, in its reasonable act, it produces even what we know as evil: it cannot desire all to be good: an artist would not make an animal all eyes; and in the same way, the Reason-Principle would not make all divine; it makes Gods but also celestial spirits, the intermediate order, then men, then the animals; all is graded succession, and this in no spirit of grudging but in the expression of a Reason teeming with intellectual variety.

Note that Reason was an emanation from the Intellect which in turn was an emanation from the One. This was the core of Platonism. Reality had spawned from emanations: Reason from Intellect and Intellect from Good.

It was from this “Good” that all things were created:

Seeking nothing, possessing nothing, lacking nothing, the One is perfect and, in our metaphor, has overflowed, and its exuberance has produced the new: this product has turned again to its begetter and been filled and has become its contemplator and so an Intellectual-Principle… Soul arises as the idea and act of the motionless Intellectual-Principle- which itself sprang from its own motionless prior- but the soul’s operation is not similarly motionless; its image is generated from its movement. It takes fulness by looking to its source; but it generates its image by adopting another, a downward, movement.

The idea is this: the One was so very perfect that it overflowed with perfection, creating the Intellect, the Intellect departed from the One and when it looked back it sprang forth the Soul (these would rightly be called emanations).

A side note on the Gnostics: The Christian Gnostics would be obsessed with these emanations, because the more emanations the farther the material world was from perfection. Some Gnostics claimed the God of the Old Testament was an evil emanation that the God of the New Testament came to overthrow. The Gnostics were highly Platonistic.

Because the Soul was an image of perfection, the material world in turn was a falling of the Soul. The extent to which the Soul was bound to the material world was the extent to which it had fallen from the One. The goal of any good Neo-Platonist was to return to the one. They were to remove the chains of the material world and attempt to break the bonds that trapped the Soul. This was known as the ascent.

On the ascent:

In the advancing stages of Contemplation rising from that in Nature, to that in the Soul and thence again to that in the Intellectual-Principle itself- the object contemplated becomes progressively a more and more intimate possession of the Contemplating Beings, more and more one thing with them; and in the advanced Soul the objects of knowledge, well on the way towards the Intellectual-Principle, are close to identity with their container.

In short, Platonism was the belief that there was a ultimate Good, a Summum Bonum. This god was perfect, immutable, simple, omnipresent, timelessness, unknowable, and omnipotence. The duty of all Platonists was to escape the physical world and return to the closest state that one could reach towards this One.

Posted in Gnostics, Platonism, Plotinus, Theology | 2 Comments

an overview of platonism

Platonism is simply the theology derived from the works of Plato. Plato had a scattering of works dealing with a varied number of subjects. Some of his works spoke as if the Greek gods were real, but this seems to be tongue in cheek. In The Republic, Plato lambasts anyone who believes in the Greek gods and posits a monotheistic explanation. Plato’s really influential works describe an ultimate creator. The basic idea for this creator was that he was ultimately “good” and from that attribute all other attributes flowed.

Here is Plato in the Republic, book 2:

Shall I ask you whether God is a magician, and of a nature to appear insidiously now in one shape, and now in another–sometimes himself changing and passing into many forms… or is he one and the same immutably fixed in his own proper image?

…if we suppose a change in anything, that change must be effected either by the thing itself, or by some other thing… And things which are at their best are also least liable to be altered or discomposed; for example, when healthiest and strongest, the human frame is least liable to be affected by meats and drinks, and the plant which is in the fullest vigour also suffers least from winds or the heat of the sun or any similar causes… and will not the bravest and wisest soul be least confused or deranged by any external influence?

…Then everything which is good, whether made by art or nature, or both, is least liable to suffer change from without… surely God and the things of God are in every way perfect… Then he can hardly be compelled by external influence to take many shapes?

…If he change at all he can only change for the worse, for we cannot suppose him to be deficient either in virtue or beauty… Then it is impossible that God should ever be willing to change; being, as is supposed, the fairest and best that is conceivable, every God remains absolutely and for ever in his own form.

… Then it is impossible that God should ever be willing to change; being, as is supposed, the fairest and best that is conceivable, every god remains absolutely and for ever in his own form.

In this text, Plato starts with the assumption that god is only good and not evil. Futhermore, god is perfection in all characteristics (“the fairest and best that is conceivable”). This is Plato’s starting assumption, god is the ultimate good (“the Summum Bonum”) and god is perfect (the best thing conceivable). From these attribute, Plato reasons that god must be immutable.

Here is the logic, often repeated by modern Calvinists: If something perfect were to change, then it would have to change for the worse. If it changes for the worse then it would not be perfect. Thus god does not change.

Plato uses this idea of the perfect being, and in Timaeus, expands on it:

…Now the nature of the ideal being was everlasting, but to bestow this attribute in its fulness [sic] upon a creature was impossible. Wherefore he resolved to have a moving image of eternity, and when he set in order the heaven, he made this image eternal but moving according to number, while eternity itself rests in unity; and this image we call time. For there were no days and nights and months and years before the heaven was created, but when he constructed the heaven he created them also. They are all parts of time, and the past and future are created species of time, which we unconsciously but wrongly transfer to the eternal essence; for we say that he “was,” he “is,” he “will be,” but the truth is that “is” alone is properly attributed to him, and that “was” and “will be” only to be spoken of becoming in time, for they are motions, but that which is immovably the same cannot become older or younger by time, nor ever did or has become, or hereafter will be, older or younger, nor is subject at all to any of those states which affect moving and sensible things and of which generation is the cause. These are the forms of time, which imitates eternity and revolves according to a law of number. Moreover, when we say that what has become is become and what becomes is becoming, and that what will become is about to become and that the non-existent is non-existent-all these are inaccurate modes of expression. But perhaps this whole subject will be more suitably discussed on some other occasion.

Because god is perfect, god cannot be in time. Instead, god must be in an eternal now, not subject to change, while the rest of creation is a moving picture of eternity (like a movie playing out).

So to Plato, god was the Summum Bonum, perfect and timeless. In Plato’s mind, the goal of his religion was to return to a similar state as his god. In this sense, every good practitioner of true religion strives to purify their souls in order to return to a state of immortality.

From Phaedrus:

I will endeavour to explain to you in what way the mortal differs from the immortal creature. The soul in her totality has the care of inanimate being everywhere, and traverses the whole heaven in divers forms appearing–when perfect and fully winged she soars upward, and orders the whole world; whereas the imperfect soul, losing her wings and drooping in her flight at last settles on the solid ground-there, finding a home, she receives an earthly frame which appears to be self-moved, but is really moved by her power; and this composition of soul and body is called a living and mortal creature. For immortal no such union can be reasonably believed to be; although fancy, not having seen nor surely known the nature of God, may imagine an immortal creature having both a body and also a soul which are united throughout all time…

Such is the life of the gods; but of other souls, that which follows God best and is likest to him lifts the head of the charioteer into the outer world, and is carried round in the revolution, troubled indeed by the steeds, and with difficulty beholding true being; while another only rises and falls, and sees, and again fails to see by reason of the unruliness of the steeds. The rest of the souls are also longing after the upper world and they all follow, but not being strong enough they are carried round below the surface, plunging, treading on one another, each striving to be first; and there is confusion and perspiration and the extremity of effort; and many of them are lamed or have their wings broken through the ill-driving of the charioteers; and all of them after a fruitless toil, not having attained to the mysteries of true being, go away, and feed upon opinion.

To Plato, the material world was bondage for the soul. Plato believed that imperfect souls became part of the material world, where perfect souls became part of the immortal world. The souls could change their states by purification. Mortal humans, to become immortal, would have to become like god. Plato explains the working of this purification in Phaedo:

And I conceive that the founders of the mysteries had a real meaning and were not mere triflers when they intimated in a figure long ago that he who passes unsanctified and uninitiated into the world below will live in a slough, but that he who arrives there after initiation and purification will dwell with the gods. For “many,” as they say in the mysteries, “are the thyrsus bearers, but few are the mystics,”-meaning, as I interpret the words, the true philosophers.

But he who is a philosopher or lover of learning, and is entirely pure at departing, is alone permitted to reach the gods. And this is the reason… why the true votaries of philosophy abstain from all fleshly lusts, and endure and refuse to give themselves up to them-not because they fear poverty or the ruin of their families, like the lovers of money, and the world in general; nor like the lovers of power and honor, because they dread the dishonor or disgrace of evil deeds.

Platonic purification was disdain for earthly pleasures. An initiate would disdain all lust, pleasure, money and all other worldly things. The initiate would then meditate on becoming like god. This is the Platonic ascent.

The Platonic religion was one in which god was the ultimate good (“the summum bonum”), god was changeless and timeless perfection, and the goal of human beings were to become purified to join god in immortality. This is actually the meaning of Plato’s famous allegory of the cave.

During and after the time of Jesus, Neo-Platonistism would arise expanding on the attributes of the “summum bonum” and shaping the early Christian church’s views on God. Next article: an overview of neo-platonism.

Posted in God, Immutable, Plato | 4 Comments

white refuted – opening statement

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.

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.

Posted in Bible, Calvinism, Critics, God, Immutable, Omniscience, Open Theism, Prophecy, Theology | 2 Comments

understanding isaiah 5

The whole of Isaiah is a prophetic book. The summary of the entire book can be found in the first chapter:

Isa 1:19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;
Isa 1:20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

At its core, the book of Isaiah is a call for repentance from Israel. This repentance is coupled with strong threats of annihilation in the case of unbelief and strong promises of blessings in exchange for righteousness. The book was not written for future generations, although the themes are eternal. The book was written to warn and predict that the current generation would experience the events that are depicted. Within the book, there is a shift from pre-exile to an exile frame of reference. The people to whom the book was written experienced judgment in their own lifetimes.

A strong theme in Isaiah is repentance. There is always room for Israel to repent, as explicit in the many and scattered calls for repentance throughout the book of Isaiah. It is in this context that God prophesies destruction.

In Isaiah 5, God begins building an illustration of His experiences and present relationship with Israel:

Isa 5:1 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill.
Isa 5:2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes.

So here is the scenario so far: a vineyard planter has a vineyard. He engages in all the correct horticulture techniques and then expects good produce. Additionally, the vineyard owner constructs a winepress because he expects to be able to make wine from these good grapes. In the illustration, the vineyard owner has done everything conceivable to produce good grapes. The vineyard planner expected good grapes but the result was wild grapes.

In the middle of the illustration, God shifts the frame of reference to Himself. He is the vineyard owner and Israel is the vineyard:

Isa 5:3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard.
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?

God challenges Israel to offer up additional things that He could have done for His vineyard. The question is rhetorical. The rhetorical answer is “nothing”. God did all that is possible to produce good fruit. God finishes by explaining that He expected good, but His expectations did not happen as planned. This is paralleled to the vineyard owner expecting good grapes but instead getting wild grapes.

The illustration continues:

Isa 5:5 And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
Isa 5:6 I will lay it waste; It shall not be pruned or dug, But there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds That they rain no rain on it.”
Isa 5:7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.

The illustration concludes with a dire warning: God will destroy His vineyard. The vineyard planter expected good grapes that never materialized, and thus God will utterly destroy Israel. Explicitly, God explains that the Vineyard was Israel and the plants were the people. God expected justice, but got oppression. God expected righteousness, but got notifications of wickedness (this could be the prayer of the oppressed or third party reports of evil).

The Augustinian Christian will not want to take this parable at face value. In the parable, God attempts to create something that does not materialize. God had expected it to materialize, but it never does materialize. God repents from building up Israel to destroying Israel. The furious anger radiates from the text.

Augustinians try to rationalize this away. From Contending with Christianity’s Critics:

If I tell a group of grade-school boys that I expect them to behave, does this show that I believe they will behave? Not at all. I may, at the same time as I expect them to obey, also believe that they will fall short of my expectations. (I’ve had experience with this particular group before!) If God expected grapes in this sense, His expectation provides no evidence whatsoever that He didn’t also foreknow that the vineyard would yield wild grapes instead.

But this rationalization does not fit on multiple levels.

1. It does not fit the illustration. The vineyard planter did everything correct to grow good grapes. The vineyard planter had not anticipated bad grapes. He even goes so far as building a wine press. No vineyard planter would go through all the planting and building process while knowing there would be no produce. To say that the vineyard owner expected wild grapes defeats the entire point of the illustration: that Israel rebelled although God did more than enough to convince Himself (and reasonable third parties) that Israel would be righteous.

2. The story is not about expectations (standards). This story is about failed attempts to shape future events. The vineyard owner sets up the vineyard (Israel) to produce good grapes (righteous people), yet wild grapes (evil people) are the result.

3. God responds by destroying Israel utterly. The reaction is vitriol. If this story was about failed standards that were expected, angry slaughter would not be a fitting result. If God knew that Israel would reject Him, this is how the illustration would read:

A vineyard owner builds a vineyard, walls, a tower and winepress knowing full well none were needed and none would be used. Furthermore, the vineyard owner builds and plants knowing full well that he will have to destroy absolutely everything he created. After the vineyard does not produce, the vineyard owner destroys everything.

This is a psychotic story and is totally contrary to the point that Isaiah is trying to make. The natural reading is that God is dismayed, angered, and retaliates against something He attempted to avert and subsequently did not expect.

Isa 5:8 Woe to those who join house to house; They add field to field, Till there is no place Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land!

This verse seems to single out greed as a primary sin of Israel. The verse is a warning against those who want to acquire every piece of land such that there is no place left for others and the greedy individual is alone the sole ruler. The proper punctuation seems to be: “Woe to those who join house to house. They add field to field [un]till there is no place. Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land!”

The subsequent threat God gives applies extra strong against those acquiring land for wealth:

Isa 5:9 In my hearing the LORD of hosts said, “Truly, many houses shall be desolate, Great and beautiful ones, without inhabitant.
Isa 5:10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, And a homer of seed shall yield one ephah.”

The rich will buy up land, but not gain the wealth that would be normally expected by the land. This parallels the parable in the first few verses where God experienced the same in planting Israel. Whereas God did not gain His expected produce, those who own land will also fall short. From verse 10, land owners would lose over 90% of their seed investment, not counting the lost labor, material, and time for growing. This curse seems very retaliatory against Israel.

Isa 5:11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning, That they may follow intoxicating drink; Who continue until night, till wine inflames them!
Isa 5:12 The harp and the strings, The tambourine and flute, And wine are in their feasts; But they do not regard the work of the LORD, Nor consider the operation of His hands.

This warning is against drunkards, against people who wake up early to begin drinking and then continue deep into the night. This also fits the vineyard theme. Part of the woe, logically following from the previous verse, will be that their wine will stop being produced. These people listen to music for entertainment, but forget to give God His due regard for His power.

Isa 5:13 Therefore my people have gone into captivity, Because they have no knowledge; Their honorable men are famished, And their multitude dried up with thirst.
Isa 5:14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged itself And opened its mouth beyond measure; Their glory and their multitude and their pomp, And he who is jubilant, shall descend into it.
Isa 5:15 People shall be brought down, Each man shall be humbled, And the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled.

Verse 13 seems to be a prediction, despite the English translated tenses. At this point neither the Assyrian (Israel) nor Babylonian (Judah) exiles had taken place. The people are warned that their wine will be gone (note that the previous verse was against drunkards and the verses before that were against vineyard owners). Additionally, people will die (Sheol is synonymous with “the grave” in the Old Testament): the drunkards, the partiers, and the greedy (also in reference to the previous verses). In this way, their fortunes will be reversed. They were once full of life and riches, but now they will be killed and humbled.

Isa 5:16 But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, And God who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness.
Isa 5:17 Then the lambs shall feed in their pasture, And in the waste places of the fat ones strangers shall eat.

The reader is to understand that judgment of these individuals (the greedy land-grabbers, the drunkards, and the partiers) is on face value a righteous act. Punishing of these people is seen as exalting God and a righteous act. Their property will go to waste (lambs will feed on the weeds) and strangers will own the land. The land-grabbers, drunkards, and partiers are called the “fat ones”. Being fat is an outward sign of these things.

Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, And sin as if with a cart rope;
Isa 5:19 That say, “Let Him make speed and hasten His work, That we may see it; And let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, That we may know it.”

This next part of Isaiah is an expansion of the list of evil people upon who judgment will be made or a further characterization of the same. These people actively seek sin. The illustration is that they build ropes and pull their sin behind them on a cart. This is prideful and willful sin, not passive and accidental sin. These people question God’s judgment and/or blessings, asking when they will see them. The picture this paints of Israel is one in which God’s prophets are not taken seriously. The people might have been warned in the past and never experienced judgment. They are skeptical of the prophecies.

Isa 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Verse 20 appears to be repetition to emphasize the point. Calling evil good and good evil is reiterated in three different ways with three different word sets. People are not dealing with literal light or darkness, or even actual sweet and bitter tastes. Those words are a flowery way of saying people are mislabeling good and evil.

This verse is important for illustrating the figurative uses of light and darkness. Compare to Isaiah 45:

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

God is not saying that He literally creates literal light and darkness, although the author would probably not deny that statement. The verse is about God giving both judgment and blessings. Light and darkness are very figuratively loaded words and are normally used in a non-literal sense.

Isa 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!
Isa 5:22 Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,
Isa 5:23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man!

Notice the theme of pride. These people claim God’s punishments and blessings will not happen. These people claim evil as good and good as evil. They pride themselves in the here and now: parties, riches, drinking, and a life without God. They exchange injustice for money, oppressing the innocent. God will humble them:

Isa 5:24 Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, And the flame consumes the chaff, So their root will be as rottenness, And their blossom will ascend like dust; Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Isa 5:25 Therefore the anger of the LORD is aroused against His people; He has stretched out His hand against them And stricken them, And the hills trembled. Their carcasses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still.

Notice again the vineyard or farming references. God planted the vineyard; no good fruit was produced, so God will burn it down. God’s anger is aroused. God is stirred to action because they “rejected the law of the Lord”. God will kill them. The imagery is dead bodies strewn throughout the streets. The phrase is written as if it is past tense, but it might yet be predictions of the future as with verse 13. Another possibility is that there may have been some unnamed past event that both this and verse 13 describes.

Isa 5:26 He will lift up a banner to the nations from afar, And will whistle to them from the end of the earth; Surely they shall come with speed, swiftly.

This whistling theme runs through Isaiah. This is how God gets foreign people to accomplish His will; he entices them. Compare:

Isa 7:18 And it shall come to pass in that day That the LORD will whistle for the fly That is in the farthest part of the rivers of Egypt, And for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

The general enticement is usually in the form of wealth. Evil people see the riches of Israel and plot against Israel. This is recorded to have happened in 2 Kings 20 when Babylon sees the riches of Israel and reports back to their nation. Similarly, the Assyrians were paid in silver by Israel for mercenary work (2Ki 16:8), this might have made them believe Israel was ripe for taking. God uses these enticements to accomplish His plans, although not letting the evil people live without judgment (see Isaiah 10:12).

Isa 5:27 No one will be weary or stumble among them, No one will slumber or sleep; Nor will the belt on their loins be loosed, Nor the strap of their sandals be broken;
Isa 5:28 Whose arrows are sharp, And all their bows bent; Their horses’ hooves will seem like flint, And their wheels like a whirlwind.
Isa 5:29 Their roaring will be like a lion, They will roar like young lions; Yes, they will roar And lay hold of the prey; They will carry it away safely, And no one will deliver.

This illustration is that the call to Israel’s enemies will bring rapid response. The enemy will not rest until they take Israel. They will not sleep or even remove their weapons until they have victory. Victory will be unstoppable and swift. This passage would most likely refer to the Assyrians, as the Assyrian captivity came shortly after.

Isa 5:30 In that day they will roar against them Like the roaring of the sea. And if one looks to the land, Behold, darkness and sorrow; And the light is darkened by the clouds.

Again, darkness and light are used in a metaphorical sense. When Israel is destroyed, Israel is in “darkness”. The “light” is shut out, as Israel is left without hope and mourns for the dead.

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spontaneous order on roads

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noah had an unrighteous family

In Genesis 6, the Bible introduces the reader to a man named Noah. The entire world was wicked, but “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”:

Gen 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Gen 6:9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.
Gen 6:10 And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Verse 9 and 10 are a little complicated. What are generations? It could be saying “Noah was righteous during his entire life.” It could be saying “Noah and his offspring were just.” I have even heard people claim that “perfect in generations” meant his bloodline was not polluted by the angels (per verse 4).

There is reason to think that it is not the second option. Elsewhere in the Bible God uses Noah as an example of a righteous person and then alludes to the fact that Noah’s family was saved due to Noah’s righteousness and not their own:

Eze 14:19 “Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast,
Eze 14:20 even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, “they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.”

Throughout Ezekiel 14, this theme is repeated. At the time of Ezekiel 14, God is so incensed at Israel that he determines to destroy all the wicked, even those wicked who are close relations to the righteous. This suggests that God at times has saved the wicked relations of the righteous. One of the three examples is Noah and must be the reference. The other two don’t quite fit.

In other words, Noah’s family did not quite find “grace in the eyes of the Lord” as did Noah. Instead they were fortunate enough to be related to Noah.

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answering james white

This post will take James White’s cross examination questions to Bob Enyart and answer them. It should be noted that in Enyart’s cross examination, James White avoided direct questions such as answering the simple question “In Gethsemane, at the moment Jesus stated that God could send legions of angels to rescue Jesus, could God have done so at that moment?” Enyart, for the most part, directly answered White’s questions.

1. Did God know you would exist when he created the world?

No. 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.

While White believes the repentance in Genesis 6 is more of a “deep grief”, 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.

See also: God Respond to Rejection

2. Did God know sin would exist when He created the world?

Sin and rebellion are always possibilities. Did God “know” that sin would exist in that it was extremely likely? The Bible is silent on the issue, so we all we have is speculation. But per Genesis 6, God did not know the extent of man’s evil from before the world began.

3. So you just identified the cross as a contingency plan, is that correct?

The cross is definitely a contingency plan. If the entire world never sinned, Jesus would not have to die. If the entire world repented of sin, Jesus would not have to die. Jesus, himself, indicates that the plan did not have to come to fruition when Jesus asks that he not be killed:

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

Jesus likewise states that God could rescue him at any time:

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?

If Jesus did not think the cross was a forgone conclusion, Christians would be wise to likewise think that the cross was a contingent, contingency plan.

See also:
The Crucifixion was Not a Fixed Event

4. When God created did He already have this contingency plan or did it come about after the fall?

The Bible is silent on this issue. God may have or may not have. God did seem to have Christ and redemption in mind from before the fall (this is not to say that the crucifixion was chosen as the methodology from before the fall):

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

The one thing that is very important to avoid, which White falls prey to throughout his teaching, is presupposing all sorts of issues based on how it makes him feel. White is an emotional powder-keg, as evident by his avoidance of the Bible in the complicated and contradictory theology he believes (see his closing remarks). White thinks that God “not forever fating evil people to kill an innocent man” would be horrible, and bases his argument against it based on his feelings. This makes for horrible theology and is not an intellectually honest way to treat the Bible. [quote marks used to clarify sentence and are not a verbal quote]

5. Do you agree with Doctor Sanders that God cannot know what a free creature will do without sacrificing that creature’s freedom?

Two quick illustrations:

James invites Bob to an event scheduled the next weekend. Bob responds “No, I know I will be out of town that weekend.” James responds “You don’t ‘know’ that, something might happen to stop you from leaving town.” What would be Bob’s reaction? Most normal people would look at James like he is a ridiculous human being. Bob, in fact, does ‘know’ that he will be out of town in spite of an odd event canceling his plans.

Likewise, I can ‘know’ that if I go to Walmart right now that a cashier will accept my money in exchange for Doritos. I can know a creature’s (the cashier’s) free will actions without that creature sacrificing its freedom, without knowing the future exhaustively, and without knowing the particular individual.

What this illustrates is that Calvinists redefine “knowledge” to fit their Platonism!

When God uses the word “know” it is just how normal people use the word. In Exodus 18, God says “Now I know.”

Gen 22:12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

As White points out, Abraham could still rebel in the future, so the test did not ensure 100% that Abraham would never turn. The test did not establish fatalism. But tests, such as a wife sending one of her friends to test her husband’s fidelity, are not designed to give fatalistic knowledge of the future. Behavior tests give normal knowledge of the future, where things are extremely probable but not definite. In the same sense that I “know” I will wake up tomorrow morning, God “knows” Abraham will continue to serve God.

What White’s question assumes is a new definition for knowledge that is alien to normal human language. White defines “knowledge” as “100% certainty without variation.” Knowledge of the future, defined by Platonism is better labeled “fate”. To answer White’s question: creatures cannot be “fated” without sacrificing freedom. Yes.

See also:
Knowledge redefined by Calvinism

6. If God cannot violate someone’s will, can we violate God’s will?

How does someone “violate someone’s will”? That is a non-concept invented by theologians obsessed with Classical Greek ideas. God’s will can be thwarted, as the lawyers thwarted God’s will.

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

Throughout the Old Testament, a reoccurring theme is that Israel thwarts God’s will for themselves.

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.

The Biblical answer is that God’s will is thwarted often by a rebellious and sinful man.

See also:
Verses in which God is thwarted

7. When God restrains someone from committing evil, is He violating their will?

No. Will cannot be constrained by definition, although people might be prevailed upon to change their will. In the Bible, God pleads with Israel and says “what else could I have done to make you love me.”

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?

God has exhausted His options to change Israel’s will. In the verse above, God turns angry and resolves to destroy Israel because they will not change their will.

Isa 5:5 And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
Isa 5:6 I will lay it waste; It shall not be pruned or dug, But there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds That they rain no rain on it.”

The history recorded in the Bible shows God who contends with rebellious human beings, God tries everything He can to change their will, but very seldom does it work.

8. If God restrains evil, how is that not a violation of will?

Because “violating will” is a nonsensical and vague phrase. If micro-robots took over someone’s body and forced them to do jumping jacks, this is not a violation of will. This is instead a hijacking of a body. God does not ever seem to do even this in the Bible. If He did, he would be morally culpable for their acts, not them. Just as King David was morally culpable for killing Uriah the Hittite, God would be responsible for the acts He forces upon people.

See Proxy Sins.

When God applies coercion, that is exactly what it is (coercion). When God wanted King Nebuchadnezzar to become righteous, God turned the king into a crazy man beast in order to break Nebuchadnezzar’s pride. If God could just “violate” will, why did God not just snap His fingers to break the king’s pride? The Bible throughout shows God using His power to effect His will on Earth. Just as a government institutes law to coerce individuals to behave, God institutes divine law against people and nations. God says the righteous will be blessed and the sinners destroyed.

See also:
Restraint of Free Will

As an interesting side note, in hypnotist manuals they stress that they cannot even hypnotize people to do something against which the person is morally opposed.

9. In Isaiah 41 we hear “tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome.” Could you please explain how it is that God can give this challenge, and can you tell us how God can fulfill this challenge, Himself, in an open theist universe?

This is where I might vary from Enyart’s answer. The verse in question is in the context of power actions. The entire 9 chapters from Isaiah 40-48 is God attempting to convince Israel that God is powerful enough to accomplish what He says He will do.

Imagine that. Not only did Israel at that time doubt God’s ability to perform even the simplest of actions but God dedicates His own words and time to convince them otherwise. God is wholeheartedly attempting to convince Israel that He is the one true God and is powerful enough to do what He says. Ancient Israelites not only did not believe God was omniscient, omnipresent, timeless, and immutable, but also they did not believe God was omnipotent. How differently would Isaiah have written if he were a Calvinist instead of an Open Theist? Instead, Isaiah writes like an Open Theist: God is powerful enough to do what He says.

That is the context of Isaiah:

Isa 41:22 “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; Let them show the former things, what they were, That we may consider them, And know the latter end of them; Or declare to us things to come.

God says something an brings it about. See the very next verse:

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.

In short, here is God’s argument why Israel should believe God is the true God:

I am God and I will protect you and kill the wicked. Once you see this you will know that I am God because I said it and I brought it to past. Look at these false gods. What power acts have they claimed they would do and then accomplished. (Note how this filters the claim that a false god performed just any random event. Whereas a coincidence might to attributed to a false god, if the false worshipers are asked to produce a prediction of the event before the event happened then it is much harder to attribute randomness to a false god.) Furthermore, I challenge them to predict their own power acts right now, just as I have just done, and we will see who is the true God.

This is NOT a claim of knowledge. That would be counter to the entire point of Isaiah 40-48. God, as is echoed throughout the Bible, is saying that He knows what will happen because He is powerful enough to bring it about. God says He will do something and the God does that thing.

This is NOT about all past events in history, such as the first man stubbing his toe or some future man flushing a toilet. The context is God’s prophecy and acts, particularly in regards to Israel’s current and past geopolitical status. Isaiah’s point is that God will act and has acted, with prophecy confirmation. This proves God is the true God.

Also see:
An Overview of Isaiah 40
Understanding Isaiah 41

10. Do you believe Judas could have repented and not betrayed the Lord?

Yes. God, throughout the Bible, states that if the wicked repent then God will respond in turn. Ezekiel 18 and Jeremiah 18 are the most prominent examples of this in the Bible, but these normal operating procedures are repeated ad nauseam in case people just don’t understand. God rejoices when the wicked repent. He is not mad that his prophecy doesn’t come true. Instead, God uses His failed prophecy to illustrate His mercy (such as in Jonah).

11. In light of.. John 13, when Jesus says, he specifically cites the scripture “but the scripture will be fulfilled “he who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” Could you explain how the scripture could not be fulfilled and yet Jesus not be speaking falsehood here?

The Augustinian Christians have an unnatural standard for what they believe constitutes falsehood. In Jonah 3:4, God had Jonah prophesy 40 days until Nineveh would be destroyed. Nineveh was not destroyed. The prophesy did not come true. But neither God nor Jonah were speaking “falsehoods”.

Likewise, God had promised to drive out enemy nations from Israel, but in Judges 2:20 God says that He will not do what He had promised. God was not speaking falsehoods.

See also: SAB on Nations being driven out.

The reason both these incidents (and others) are not falsehoods is because the conditions changed and a fulfillment would be unreasonable. If you tell your teenager that you will take them to Disneyland, but then they run away from home, you do not have to track them down, tie them up, and smuggle them to Florida in order to “not have been speaking falsehoods”. That would be absurd. Likewise, God uses reasonable standards when dealing with both people and nations. God will respond to nations and God will respond to people:

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.

Notice that God does not do what He thought He would do also that God does not do what He said He would do depending on the actions of the people. The only people insistent that everything has to happen as planned is the Calvinist, and this is because of their dedication to the Platonist attributes of God.

In short, something God thinks or something God says can be falsified without God having spoken falsehood.

In response to James White’s second point, about the prediction itself, it is not an actual prediction. The reference is to Psalm 41 and this is a Psalm where King David is talking about his dealings with his enemies:

Psa 41:7 All who hate me whisper together against me; Against me they devise my hurt.
Psa 41:8 “An evil disease,” they say, “clings to him. And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.”
Psa 41:9 Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.
Psa 41:10 But You, O LORD, be merciful to me, and raise me up, That I may repay them.
Psa 41:11 By this I know that You are well pleased with me, Because my enemy does not triumph over me.
Psa 41:12 As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, And set me before Your face forever.

There is no hint of prophecy in these verses. This is why it needs to be stressed “fulfilled”, as used throughout the book of Matthew, is better translated as “paralleled”. The Jewish culture of Jesus’ time were looking for parallel concepts, not predictions of the future. If Jesus’ life and ministry significantly paralleled Old Testament themes, that is how it was considered true.

See also:
Failed Prophecies in Matthew
How Could Both Paul and James Use Abraham as an Example

12. (Referencing John 13:19) If Judas had not done what Jesus had said, then how would the disciples know that Jesus is the I AM?

Joh 13:19 Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.

One very interesting thing about John 13:19 is that White claims this as a parallel “deity test” to various verses in Isaiah 40-48. White also admits that Jesus did not know the end times per Mark 13:32. This means that both John 13:19 and Isaiah 40-48 do not necessitate fatalistic knowledge of the future! God and Jesus can both not “know” various things and still makes these claims. This is an excellent verse against Calvinism.

But how could Jesus make such claims with accuracy and stake his claim to being the Messiah upon it? Certainly this is the same Judas that Jesus spent three years preaching alongside. Certainly this is the same Judas who had been showing increasing dissatisfaction with Jesus. Certainly this is the same Judas who has been stealing money from the collections for his own use. Jesus intimately knew Judas’ character, plus had access to God to fill in the details of what had already transpired. This first part is how Jesus knew Judas would not repent. Judas was already in deep with the plot. The second part is speculation of one of the many ways Jesus could know about the plot. Nothing in the verses necessitate omniscience or fatalism. In fact, because Jesus did not know everything they destroy other Calvinist prooftexts about omniscience.

13. Could Jesus have not gone to the cross?

Yes. Jesus, himself, believed he did not have to go to the cross. This was discussed in question 3. In the actual debate, Enyart had explained this earlier as well.

See also:
The Crucifixion was Not a Fixed Event

14. Is it possible for the Son as a human being with free will to have chosen to rebel against the father?

Satan definitely believed so. Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness in an attempt to get Jesus to side with Satan.

James White believes he knows more about what Jesus can and cannot do than the authors of the Bible and than Satan. Satan will engage in bets with God (Job 1 and again in Job 2). Satan did not believe God knew the future. Many people throughout the Bible negotiate with God to revoke His prophecies (Exodus 32 and Genesis 18). But James White does not see God in the same light as those who best knew God. James White thinks he knows better than those who spoke with God “face to face”.

James White instead bases his understanding about God on how the implications make him feel and how the implications interact with his grand and crazy metaphysics. This is not a rational way to do theology. Truth is not dependent on James White’s personal whims. The Bible should not be viewed through the lens on Plato.

When Jesus says that he willed not to die by crucifixion, Jesus should be believed (not James White). James White has a crazy belief that if Jesus actually exercised his will (to not die by crucifixion) then the Godhead would “cease to exist”. Is that a Biblical belief? What verses explain the results of Jesus rebelling from God or ever suggest it cannot happen? Why would it even be a rational conclusion that rebelling would make the Godhead “cease to exist”?

Like so much of James White’s theology, it is just made up in his own head. Here is White’s argument: “if the future is not settled, if Jesus can rebel, if God can change, then we cannot trust Him.” The points and purposes of most James White’s questions are all about feel good metaphysical implications without reference to the Bible. The Bible gives reasons we can trust God and it is always by pointing out past faithfulness (not by falling back on impecability or immutability or any other pagan attribute). Enyart responds mostly with Biblical illustrations showing how even the Bible undermines White’s emotional arguments. White responds by emoting.

Posted in Bible, Calvinism, God, Immutable, Jewish History, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Omniscience, Open Theism, Prophecy, Theology | 1 Comment