* Bob Enyart Debates D. James Kennedy's Professor of New Testament in a written, ten-round moderated Open Theism debate with Dr. Samuel Lamerson of Knox Theological Seminary on whether the future is settled or open.
* Open Theism: "We can trust God with free will. Open Theism is the Christian doctrine that the future is not settled but open because God is alive, eternally free, and inexhaustibly creative. God can think a new thought, write a new song, design a new butterfly; things an immutable deity could never do. The biblical attributes of our eternal God are that He is living, personal, relational, good, and loving. These trump the Greek and philosophical attributes of the OMNIs and IMs (immutability, impeccability, impassibility, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence). For example, a stone idol is immutable, impeccable, and impassible. Those taught a settled future overlook that they've also been sold a deity just as incapable as its creation of true freedom." -Bob Enyart
* Lamerson/Enyart Debate Resources:
- Featured at opentheism.org
- Here's a PDF of the BR-X debate
- See our list of 575+ open theism verses
- Read the debate online at TheologyOnline.com
- See the debate's clickable Table of Contents just below
- Comment on the debate from a Canadian reader
- Two Excerpts from the debate itself (a message from the mother of the infamous murderer Susan Smith, and a list of the extra-biblical authorities appealed to by the Calvinist side)
* Other Open Theism Debates by Pastor Enyart: Bob has also debated Open Theism:
- in a short five-round format with Dr. Larry Bray, the president of the online TNARS, The North American Reformed Seminar (on Facebook)
-and with Dr. James White at Denver's historic Brown Palace Hotel. So before looking at the written Lamerson debate, see this 2-minute video that documents the shocking aftermath of the White debate:
* The Full White Debate: can be viewed (or heard) on YouTube, it's embedded just below and can be heard right here on KGOV. It's also available over at opentheism.org. Nov 2017 UPDATE: Our YouTube full debate video is at 26,000 views, the audio of the debate is at 7,000, and with our DVD sales and other online videos, the debate views are approaching 50,000, with many thousands more hearing it via podcast, download, and on radio! So thanks for spreading the word!
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!
Barry from Ontario, Canada
Round Three Excerpt:
My dear friend, Brian Rohrbough, whose son Danny was murdered at Columbine High School by Harris and Klebold, wants to send this message in response to Sam's worry that if God was not in total control, he might lead us to marry someone who will murder our children:
Dr. Lamerson, I received a letter from Barbara Martin of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She wrote, "Our family faced this grim reality too when our grandchildren were murdered by their mother, Susan Smith... Many people blame God, but the Bible blames the devil (Hebrews 2:12)."
Mrs. Martin is correct when we realize that the devil represents all those in rebellion against God (John 8:44), but millions of Calvinists believe that God ordained every rape and murder, and the criminals do exactly what God predestined them to do, without any ability to do otherwise. Dr. Lamerson, you wrote that if God was not in complete control, then perhaps "the spouse that he leads me to marry may be the wrong one who will murder my children." But your Calvinist God supposedly did that already to David Smith. Sam, you believe that every mother who murders her child does so by God's decree. Aren't you betraying your own Calvinist belief to suggest that somehow your children should be specially protected?
After Columbine, many Christians publicly said God must have had a good reason, to have Danny and the others murdered. Jesus Himself rejected this "blame God attitude." Consider the importance of a report this week of an archaeological find of the discovery of the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem. Perhaps you remember the tower near there. It fell over and killed eighteen people. And Jesus responded to the Greek superstition of that day, like Calvinism today, when people foolishly look for the will of God in murders, rapes, and tragedies of negligence, by saying:
"Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! ..." -Jesus, Luke 13:4-5
And for those who were looking for an interpretation of the deaths of the Galileans who were murdered by Pilate, Jesus found their superstition useless too:
"Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no!" -Jesus, Luke 13:2-3
Here Jesus rejected the most obvious of the absurd "interpretations," that bad things happened to people because God was directly punishing them. Since Luke recorded Christ's rebuke, Calvinists today have to get around it. So they're more "creative." You assume that if God is not punishing the victims, then He's obviously achieving some other worthwhile goal -perhaps punishing their loved ones. Or maybe He just decided that this would be the best way for the victims to go, even for the ones He preordained to eternal torment. If today Jesus were at that Pool of Siloam and someone asked Him about Calvinism, I believe that He would respond by saying the answer has not changed with the passage of time.
When we consider that God has used a Flood, and kings to bring judgment against whole populations, that was by His direct decree. God has the authority to do that. However, God didn't give authority to individuals to murder others, and would never authorize the murder of two children by their mother - who hoped to save an adulterous affair. When you attribute my son's murder to the plan and glory of God, you have sacrificed the righteousness of God for humanism.
Sincerely, -Brian Rohrbough
Thank you Brian. (And here's a link to the archaeological finding of the Pool of Siloam.) [2011 Update: Hear the interview with RSR friend Dr. Don Patton who helped excavate the Pool of Siloam. 2019 Update: Archaeologists have opened up to tourists the recently discovered 2,000-year old road to the Temple from the Pool of Siloam, where Jews cleansed ceremonially before entering the Temple grounds.]
So Dr. Lamerson, one of your fears of the Open View [that is, of the future being open and not eternally settled] is that by accident great cruelty might happen; but that is exactly what you say that God does every day, intentionally. We believe the reason that so many Christians so frequently contradict themselves is because their theology, which long ago sacrificed goodness for immutability, claims that both wickedness and goodness flow from the mind of God. That ultimate contradiction leads to a lifelong chain of contradictions, especially between what many Christians believe, and how they live their lives.
Appealing to Extra-Biblical Authority
You [Dr. Sam Lamerson] have appealed to many extra-scriptural, outside sources and authorities in defense of your Settled View [Calvinist] position. You appealed to:
1. The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas
2. All Second-Temple Literature (taken as a whole)
3. Davies and Allison (who declare the purpose of prayer)
4. Chrysostom (Homily on Matthew)
6. Erickson (God the Father Almighty, on the issue of change)
7. “Thousands [of Christians]”
8. “Major denominations”
9. “Some of the finest theological minds”
10. The beliefs of an average “first-century Jewish person” (assuming validity)
11. Bruce Ware (on what would be “strictly speaking impossible for human beings”)
12. Four Greek Experts, “men whose work cannot be questioned” (Why? Were they inspired?)
13. Morris (interpretation of John 13:19)
14. Theologians Warfield, Berkhoff, Erickson, and Grudman (“noble heritage”)
15. George B. Caird (virtually all bible language about God is metaphoric)
16. And finally, you boldly appealed to the Westminster Confession (and “the finest theological minds” who agree with it).
Sam, “simply saying” that you and the Settled View only appeal to Scripture does not do the trick. Settled Viewers appeal to extra-biblical authorities so habitually, they are not even aware of it! (Tolle Lege anyone? [that is Sam's "signature"). Sam, you’ve had a hard time restraining yourself from outside appeals even in a carefully observed debate while claiming to do otherwise! You quote Caird that “all, or almost all, of the language used by the Bible to refer to God is metaphor.”
What an example of blind trust in extra-biblical authorities! Trusting Caird as an extra-biblical authority explains but does not excuse you from overlooking that the overwhelming preponderance of biblical references to God are not metaphors! I briefly scanned the Bible, including a list of “God is” passages, and here are a few of the literal descriptions of God that Caird missed, that God is:
Living, Eternal, Creator, Mighty, Witness,
Good, Exalted, Great, Loving, Jehovah,
Gracious, Spirit, King, Righteous, True,
Powerful, Wise, Blameless, Lord, Known, Just,
Awesome, Merciful, Judge, Holy, and Savior!
But Sam you say we should believe that the majority of what the Bible says about God is otherwise, that it is metaphorical, because Caird said so! And this is why the Settled View survives, because its adherents demand as prerogative to take anything the Bible says about God as metaphor, including historical intervention (!), since after all, really, “all” or virtually everything said about God “is metaphor!” This devastating falsehood you so eagerly promote allows maximum interpretive flexibility...
-End of Excerpts-
You can watch Bob Enyart's fascinating seminar on DVD about whether the future is settled or open! Is God free? Is God creative? Is God able truly to write a new song? Of course God is, free, creative, and able to write a new song. But how do these simple truths relate to the philosophical claim that the future is settled? This Open Theism seminar on DVD will educate and delight you or your money back! Just click on the title, or browse the Video Department in the KGOV store, or call us to order at 1-800-8Enyart (836-9278), or send a check for $42.50 (or with this difficult financial crisis we're all living through, send whatever your comfortable spending on this 3-DVD set) to: Bob Enyart Live, PO Box 583, Arvada CO 80001. Also available: Bob's Predestination and Free Will seminar on CD, Bob Debates Calvinism DVD, and Bob's 10-round debate with a D. James Kennedy seminary professor titled Is the Future Settled or Open? also fully available to read for free online!
"Whenever I see people saying God is sovereign, I'd like to think they mean that He is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Creator and Judge. But I think it's become a term used by folks who think God (ultimately) predestined the most evil and filthy things, so they feel the need to do damage control on behalf of God's reputation. Saying 'God is sovereign' makes Him sound powerful in a righteous way, which makes them feel better when they wrongly claim that every vile wicked thing originated, before the foundation of the earth, in the mind of God."
- Cheryl Enyart
* Related BEL radio programs:
- The First 300 Years: Christians Taught Free Will, with its written summary and excerpts of some of the earliest church fathers
- The Guy Who Put Two Words Together 2020 interviews with Dr. Richard Rice who first coined the term open theism and authored and co-authored The Openness of God.
- Oxford Studies title The End of the Timeless God 2020 interviews with University of St. Andrews' Dr. Ryan Mullins.
- God, Time, and the Incarnation interviews with author and Liberty University associate professor Dr. Richard Holland.
- and our TheologyThursday.com broadcast, On How to Make a Rooster Crow regarding Peter's denials.
* The Debate's Clickable Table of Contents: In nearly a decade since the debate, some of the Open Theist posts in this TOL debate have become "go to" resources for some of our KGOV listeners! So to better help Bible students find what they're looking for, we provide this clickable Table of Contents:
Settled View Post 1A Dr. Samuel Lamerson's Opening Statement Against Open Theism with Arguments from Mat. 6:8 and Prophecy about Peter [p. 11 in printed debate available from BEL]
Open View Post 1B Pastor Bob Enyart's Opening Statement Supporting Open Theism Contrasting the Quantitative vs. the Qualitative (philosophical vs. Biblical) Attributes of God [p. 17; The quantitative attributes, of how much or how little, include the OMNIs and the IMs impeccability, impassibility, and immutability (which all describe a stone idol unable to sin, emote, and change), and omniscience and omnipotence. The qualitative biblical attributes of our eternal God are that He is Living, Personal, Relational, Good, and Loving. [See this by clicking 1B or here in our debate with James White.]
Settled View Post 3A Reply to Enyart’s Judas Argument; Reply to Non-prophecy [p. 47]
Open View Post 3B Assessment of the Debate Progress; Columbine dad’s letter to Lamerson; How to Falsify Openness; Isaiah's Settled View "Proof Texts" [p. 57]
Settled View Post 5A Reintroduction of Mat. 6:8 Argument; Reintroduction of Peter Argument; Reintroduction of Judas Argument [p. 91]
Open View Post 5B Assessment of the Debate Progress; Exhaustive Foreknowledge and General Immutability Concepts come from Greek Philosophy [97; also at tiny.cc/immutability-from-plato; Correction: Bob references Plato's Republic Book VI but it should be Book V.]
Settled View Post 6A Author’s Intent Hermeneutic; Reintroduction of Mat. 6:8; Reintroduction of Peter Argument; Reintroduction of Judas Argument [p. 111]
Open View Post 6B JONAH Hermeneutic: Jehovah’s Obvious Nativity Attributes Hermeneutic; List of open theism verses and teachings throughout the three thirds of the history of the entire Bible [p. 119]
Settled View Post 7A Enyart is Unresponsive and Misunderstands Linguistic Evidence [p. 133]
Open View Post 7B Lamerson Appeals to 16 Non-Scriptural Authorities; Almost all References to God are Not Metaphors; Three Proof-Texts Deal; JONAH and NOAH [p. 139]
Settled View Post 8A Defending Use of Non-Scriptural Authorities; Enyart Unresponsive on Peter and Judas Arguments; Historical Grammatical Hermeneutic; Micah 5:2; 1 Peter 1:2; Matthew 25:34; Defense of Tolle Lege Signature [p. 153]
Open View Post 8B Lamerson Denies that God’s Goodness takes Precedence over Quantitative Attribute of Knowledge; Proof of Openness; Three Openness Proof Texts; Openness in the Gospels; Contingency of the Second Coming; Lamerson Admits His Settled View Side Often Appeals to Extra-Biblical Authorities [p. 161]
Settled View Post 9A On Jesus’ ‘Mistakes;’ On Jesus’ Divesting Himself of Attributes; Reintroduction of Peter Argument; Reintroduction of Judas Argument [p. 177]
Open View Post 9B On Sam Defending Influence from Greek Philosophy; On Noah’s Name and Repentance; Psalm 139:16 is about Fetology; On Peter and Judas; On Foreknowing Individuals [p. 189]
Settled View Post 10A Paul IS Influenced by Pagans; Hebrews IS Influenced by Plato; Openness Has Jesus Making Mistakes; Openness Apparently Teaches that Evil Happens for No Reason [p. 201]
Open View Post 10B Living, Personal, Relational, Good, and Loving; Settled View Lost the Debate on its Own Terms; Summarizing the Mat. 6:8, Peter and Judas Arguments; Settled View Bias Regarding the Son of Man Title; Winning on Scriptural Terms; Bob Role Plays Sam to Answer Remaining Questions [p. 205]
APPENDICES (some available only in the BEL printed version of this Open Theism debate)
Appendix 1: Battle Royale General Rules [p. 221]
Appendix 2: Pool of Siloam (above) [p. 225]
Appendix 3: The Fetology of Ps. 139 [p. 227] Online Bonus: On Non-Prophesies
Appendix 4: Some Posts from the TheologyOnline.com Grandstands [p. 231]
Appendix 5: Pope’s Speech at Regensburg [with Bob's annotations online and in the pdf on p. 235 and discussed by John Sanders on BEL]
Appendix 6: TOL’s One-on-One BR X Follow-up Finale [p. 243]