* Today's Opening News Briefs: Bob Enyart first reports briefly on UFOs, the Baltimore murders, and the suddenly improved treatment of women. The massive decrease just reported in UFO sightings provides a partial confirmation of rsr.org/predictions#ufos. Bob also presents the reasons for the record high murder rate in the relatively small city (not even in the top 25 U.S.) of Baltimore, of 343 killings in 2017. Also, Bob celebrates the greatest moral movement of the last 30 years, the improved treatment of women thanks to Harvey Weinstein and the Hollywood sexual harassment scandal. But Bob then laments that Christian and conservative leaders are trying to undermine this vitally important social upheaval because of their partisan political commitments (fearing who this desperately-needed upheaval may tarnish).
* A Funny Slick-&-Duffy Cross-Examination Moment: Bob airs the funniest moment from the entire two-day Calvinist vs. Open Theism event, between Matt Slick and Will Duffy, when Slick asked about Jesus speaking in parables so that people would not understand.
* The "Code Talk" in Parables Fulfilled a Short Term Purpose: Bob gives four observations that he and Will Duffy have made about these passages, as he also presented on December 31, 2017 in one of the Sunday Sermons at Denver Bible Church (which are available by subscription).
1. Jesus put the interpretation of the Parable of the Sower right into the Bible itself (Mat. 13:18-23), which shows that long-term, He had absolutely no hesitancy regarding anyone having access to his explicit and plain teachings.
2: Calvinism would be disproved if Jesus had to speak in code (in parables) to make sure that those who were not chosen could not believe. (This would falsify their doctrines of total depravity and election.)
3. Jesus did not always speak in parables and was often explicitly clear when talking about salvation. See for example John 3:16; 8:23-24; 14:1, 6; and Jesus widely preached the gospel as in Mat. 4:23; 9:35; 11:5; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:18; 7:22; 20:1; as did His disciples Luke 9:6; Mark 16:16; Mat. 24:14; and many explicit Bible passages have been read by millions of those who never turned to the Lord such as Rom. 10:9-10; Eph. 2:8-9; etc.
4. Beyond the "code talk" parables, Jesus held back on many truths to prevent a premature conflict with Rome and Jerusalem (that is, with Pilate and Caiaphas). He did not want them to band together in a public attempt to thwart His purpose in going to the cross. Thus at one point, Jesus went up to Jerusalem secretly (John 7:10). Later, He declined to tell the priests where He got His authority from (Luke 20:8). And He forbade demons (Luke 4:41) and even His own disciples (Mat. 16:20) from telling others His identity. He instructed many whom He healed to keep it to themselves (Mat. 8:4; 12:16, Mark 1:44, 5:43; 7:36; 9:9, Luke 5:14; 8:56). And the Lord even commanded the Twelve to tell no one that He would be crucified and raised (Mark 8:30-31; Luke 9:21-22).
* The Open Theism Story Arc of the Gospels: Jesus took many precautions to thwart His opposition from publicly ganging up against Him. This story arc in the Gospels is intelligible only to open theists. For if Jesus had widely taught that He was the King of the Jews who had come to be crucified, easily then the Jewish and Gentile leaders could have conspired to thwart that plan. God arranged Egyptian protection for Abraham's descendants so that over centuries they could grow into a mighty nation without Him having to constantly supernaturally intervene to prevent annihilation by their enemies. Likewise, He sent Joseph and Mary with baby Jesus to Egypt (Mat. 2:15; Hos. 11:1). Similarly, the Lord preferred to outwit His opposition rather than to enable them to force His hand into performing public miracles against the powers that be. Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate could have conspired to arrest Jesus and exile Him to Patmos, or to send Him bound to Rome, or to just keep Him in prison, or even to just ignore Him, rather than to play into any crucifixion prophecy. So, brilliantly, Jesus walked a narrow road reaching the masses with His message but being coy enough so that His opposition would be confused and thwarted. He maintained this double-edged tactic until the last few days of His last week before the cross. Then He began to provoke the high priest severely. In Bethany, just two miles from Jerusalem, He publicly raised Lazarus from the dead. Then He took authority over the Temple itself by whipping the very merchants who were making a lot of money for Caiaphas, the high priest, and Annas, his father-in-law. Now with this direct provocation (righteous, though it was) Jesus knew that they could no longer restrain themselves.