First 300 Years: Christians Taught Free Will

* In Bob Enyart's Open Theism Debates: as at, Bob quotes the Bible in support of his theology, and both the Bible and extrabiblical sources to rebut opponents claims. This program falls into this latter category. For the truth about free will can be known from what the Scriptures alone teach. Regarding, however, the typical claim of Calvinists that they are faithfully continuing the teachings of the early church, please consider:

* Marston & Forster: The expanded (2000) edition of their classic book God's Strategy in Human History shows that early Christian leaders taught free will and rejected heresies that denied genuine free will. Scripture, and not church history, is authoritative on a debate over predestination and free will. However, Marston & Forster's observations, including the valuable information below, that the early Christian leaders taught free will, can help those many believers who are taught wrongly that the early Christian leaders opposed libertarian free will.

* Augustinian Sympathizer: Alister McGrath, professor of historical theology at Oxford, admits that "The pre-Augustinian theological tradition is practically of one voice in asserting the freedom of the human will." p. 296

* Free Will Was Taught: by the Christian leaders in Alexandria, Antioch, Athens, Carthage, Jerusalem, Lycia, Nyssa (in Cappadocia), Rome, and Sicca (in Africa).

* Martyrs, Sons of Martyrs: taught free will, including Justin Martyr (d 165), Irenaeus of Gaul (d 200), Athenagoras of Athens (2nd cent), Theophilus of Antioch (2nd cent), Tatian of Syria (late 2nd), Clement of Alexandria (d 215), Bardaisan of Syria (d 222), Tertullian of Carthage (d 225), Origen (d 254), Novatian of Rome (d 258), Methodius of Olympus (martyred 311), Arnobius of Sicca (d 327), Cyril of Jerusalem (d 386), Gregory of Nyssa (d 395), John Chrysostom (d 407), Jerome (d 420). Bob quoted on the air from all but the last five, so here are excerpts from their writings:

* Methodius of Olympus: wrote in The Banquet of the Ten Virgins xvi: "Now those who decide that man is not possessed of freewill, and affirm that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate... are guilty of impiety toward God..."

* Cyril of Jerusalem: an ordinary churchman, in Lecture iv 18: "Know also that thou hast a soul self-governed... made after the image of its Creator... having free power to do what it willeth."

* Gregory of Nyssa: On Virginity (3G8) chapter XII: "Being the image and the likeness... of the Power which rules all things, man kept also in the matter of a freewill, this likeness to Him..."

* John Chrysostom: On Hebrews, Homily 12: "All is in God's power, but so that our freewill is not lost... He does not preced our willing, that our freewill may not suffer."

* Jerome: Letters  CXXIII: "We have been created endowed with freewill... It is true that freedom of the will brings with it freedom of decision."

* True Confessions: St. Augustine admitted that to explain the origin of evil he would sacrifice any teaching (including therefore on God's righteousness and man's freedom), in order to preserve the Greek philosophical concept of utter immutability.

* Those Committed to Augustine: like D. James Kennedy's Professor of New Testament, write things like this: "The cheating man does what he wanted to do, simply because he could not have done otherwise does not mean that he did not freely choose to cheat on his wife..." Huh? Dr. Samuel Lamerson wrote this in debate with Bob Enyart in Post 3A of Battle Royale X: Is the Future Settled or Open? Admittedly, I am not a scholar but a talk show host. But again, I ask, "Huh?"

Today's Resource: Learn the powerful biblical hermeneutics called N.O.A.H. and J.O.N.A.H. by reading Bob's debate with the Professor of New Testament from D. James Kennedy's ministry! It's called Battle Royale X: Is the Future Settled or Open? or 2) read it for free online at TOL or 3) you can listen to a computer read BR X via an MP3 CD!

Email from a Canadian Reader

Thanks for suggesting the [TOL Battle Royale X] Open Theism debate between D. James Kennedy's professor and your Denver Bible Church. I just want to let you know that I can't believe what I'm reading. I'm totally shocked, stunned and mesmerized. This debate is FANTASTIC... Your open theism side is literally 'crushing' the Calvinist side. And with it, I'm sorry to say, you're crushing most of what I've always believed. This is sooooooo good and sooooooo smart. There's not even a typo in it and I love the gentle attitude as well. Not proud or arrogant. It's all unreal! I don't think I've ever been so impressed by anything in my life. I'm really learning a lot. Please thank your pastor Bob and your church for me. I love it. You guys are the best!

In Him,
Barry from Ontario, Canada

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* C.S. Lewis in The Case for Christianity: From chapter 3, page 41 of the 1960 edition titled "Broadcast Talks".

God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can't. If a thing is free to be good it's also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they've got to be free.

Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. ... If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.

* Before Augustine, Theologians Were Free to Ignore Greek Timelessness: Hilary of Poitiers (c. 310 – c. 367 A.D.) was Bishop of Poitiers in France and Augustine called him "the illustrious doctor of the churches". Speaking of Jesus Christ and consistent with our popular article at, in his De Trinitate Hilary wrote:

It is one thing, that He was God before He was man, another [while on Earth], that He was man and God, and another [still, since His ascension], that after being man and God, He was perfect man and perfect God. Do not then confuse the times and natures in the mystery of the dispensation, for according to the attributes of His different natures, He must speak of Himself in relation to the mystery of His humanity, in one way before His birth, in another while He was yet to die, and in another as eternal. [See also the translation excerpted in R.T. Mullins, 2016, The End of the Timeless God, Oxford University Press, p. 5.]