Thanks Dr. Lamerson for taking time from your schedule at D. James Kennedy’s ministry, and allowing me to interview you (download MP3
) on the radio
. You connected with me and the audience, as one listener put it, “regardless of the disagreement, Dr. Lamerson is a real asset to the Body.”
In this post, I’m going to answer all of your five remaining official questions. But I’ll start by responding to your first three objections to my answer, BEA-SLQ2, that we should use God’s attributes of being living, personal, relational, good, and loving, to identify and interpret figures of speech about deity, giving them precedence over Greek-influenced, lesser, quantitative attributes regarding power, knowledge, control, etc. Sam said:
So Broad It’s Virtually Pointless
: Sam, I will use this hermeneutic (principle of interpretation) again in this post to answer your question about Judas. This will further demonstrate that my answer is very specific and that within a round or two, you’ll find that readers in the Grandstands and even you will learn to easily apply it on a myriad of texts, even if only to foreknow my responses.
Bob Offered No Evidence of Greek Influence
: Sam you surprised me by challenging this, so I’ll give just a teaser here. Augustine is the most influential Christian theologian, and he highly influenced Calvin. I've thoroughly marked up my copy of his Confessions of Augustine
. In Book 7, xxxi, he had just repeated one of his favorite themes, that God is “unalterable and in no way changeable
,” and then as he's struggling to understand the nature of sin, Augustine wrote: “Whatever [the cause of evil] I saw that no explanation would do which would force me to believe the immutable God mutable.” Translation: Augustine was prepared to sacrifice any teaching, including on God’s righteousness, to preserve utter immutability. The pagan Greek philosopher Plato reports a dialogue between Socrates and Adeimantus in which they conclude that "it is impossible that God should ever be willing to change
" because "surely God and the things of God are in every way perfect… If he change at all he can only change for the worse
" (The Republic
, Book II
). Centuries later, Augustine had devoted his life to Greek philosophy and rejected Christianity because the Bible contradicted the Greeks. Then his mother’s bishop, Ambrose of Milan, also a man commited to the Greeks, taught him to interpret Scripture figuratively, so they could retain their fundamental Greek concepts of diety. That idea turned Augustine's life around, and gave him a sufficiently flexible technique so that he could define God’s most fundamental attributes according to Greek philosophy! So, he soon converted. Augustine gloried in his enduring commitment to what we should rightly call pagan Greek philosophy. Encyclopedia Brittanica.com
reports that “Augustine represents the most influential adaptation of the ancient Platonic tradition with Christian ideas.” For example in Confessions
Augustine wrote that apparent contradictions in Scripture suddenly “vanished away,” for him, for “I found that whatever truth I had read in the Platonists was said here with praise of Your grace
… [especially] You who are always the same
” (7, xxi). And “in the Platonists, God and his Word are everywhere implied
” (Confessions of Augustine
, 8, ii). That’s a confession all right.
Psalms Were Written Before Plato
: Yes, centuries before. My point exactly! I showed that the Psalms do not emphasize the classical attributes but they glorify God for His Openness attributes like goodness and love, and their corollary of warning the wicked. And then you basically acknowledged my point by stressing so well that the Psalms were written, “much too early to have been influenced by the [Greek] philosophers.” But if the classical attributes truly represented God as He is, then we should find them emphasized in Psalms, but they are not there, a point you effectively conceded.
Now, regarding Judas, I judge this question to be the most difficult one to answer that Sam posed so far, because of the many passages apparently on his side. So let me give this a full treatment, so that no one thinks the Open View fears or must play down scriptures considered heavy artillery for the Settled View.
Sam asks SLQ4: Was Jesus’ prediction about the action of Judas possibly in error?
But before I defend my answer, Sam let me save you space in round three and make your initial rebuttal:
Jesus knew from early on that Judas was evil (John 6:70), and while eating the Last Supper, Jesus predicted Judas’ betrayal (Mat. 26:25), fulfilling a thousand-year-old prophecy, “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Ps. 41:9). And when Judas led the guards to Christ, Jesus knew, “all things that would come upon Him” (John 18:4). “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver… and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me” (Mat. 27:9). “For it is written in the book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate…’ and, ‘Let another take his office’” (Ps. 69:35; 109:8; Acts 1:20). And remember the related prophecies of Ps. 55:12; Obad. 7; Zech. 11:12-13; etc. Finally, Peter affirmed the absolute certain foreknowledge of the actions of Judas, as reported centuries earlier, by saying, “this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas” (Acts 1:16). -Bob role-playing Sam
I’m familiar with the argument. After I present my own position, I will come back to rebut these points, especially the strongest quote here against me. For I said that Judas possibly could have failed to fulfill the prophecies. Yet Peter said that “this Scripture had to be fulfilled
… concerning Judas.”
But still I answer, “yes,” Jesus’ prophecy about Judas could have failed. As you will agree Sam, that which glorifies God the most is best, and most true
. So what would glorify God more, Judas’ humble repentance, or completing his hard-hearted betrayal?
: By elevating the quantitative attributes of omniscience, control, omnipotence, and immutability, above God’s qualitative attributes of being relational, good, and loving, Calvinists believe that God is glorified more by Judas carrying out his treachery, than if he had repented and being broken, sought forgiveness.
: Because the quantitative attributes should not take precedent over God’s being relational and loving, which are among His highest attributes, therefore no creaturely action can glorify God more than to obey the greatest command, which is to love Him. Thus if Judas had repented, Jesus would not be angered, but overjoyed, as the Shepherd who left the ninety-nine to recover the one lost sheep. God would care nothing of Judas failing to live up to the expected betrayal, as compared to the glory of reconciliation.
Sam, let’s think this through together, keeping Christ foremost in our minds as the truest revelation of the Father, actually (John 14:9). For we can consider Judas in terms of the quantitative attributes of knowledge and control, or in terms of God’s greater attribute of love, for God is love. Notice how these presuppositions drive our conclusions.
So let me restate your question into its historical narrative
. Earlier, Judas had left the upper room after finding out that Jesus already knew about his betrayal. In the evening after dinner the Lord took the eleven for a walk over the Brook Kidron and up the side of the Mount of Olives to Gethsemane. And in that garden, the Lord spoke the most mournful prayers ever uttered, about the dear cost of our salvation. And now watch what Calvinists think is their greatest nightmare, and see what Openness possibilities would look like actually playing out in human history. As Jesus is praying, the traitor appears, but not with a cohort of temple guards. He comes alone. And he stumbles, and falls at the feet of his Lord. “Master…, I…, I…,” but he can’t stop crying. “Master…, Master…,” his words not able to break through his sobs. Peter stirs, and awoken by the wailing, comes to see what is happening. He has a weapon, but does not need to draw his sword. For no guards were there. And Malchus was still back at the high priest’s courtyard, warming himself at a fire of coals. Peter sees his fellow disciple, Judas, prostrate and consumed in tears. He was pleading with the Lord, for something Simon couldn’t understand. Judas was overcome with grief, and the sound of wailing brings James and John, who see Jesus put his arms around Judas’ head. And the Lord cleans his nose and eyes with the edge of His robe. Then the Lord asked him, “Who are you seeking?” And Judas couldn’t answer. And so He kissed him, and said, “I know, Judas, I know.”
“I forgive you.”
Sam. Consider the entirety of who Judas was and ever will be. What could he ever have done that could have glorified God more than to repent in Gethsemane? If Judas had repented, as did Nineveh after God promised destruction in forty days, God would not cease to be God. Rather, He and the angels in heaven would rejoice. The Evangelists would not feel defeated, but they would glory recording such an event in their Gospels, as does the Scripture when Nineveh repented and avoided God’s prophesied destruction forty days later. Jonah lamented that God’s mercy superseded His prophecy (though it did!). And Settled View proponents seem to suggest they would do likewise. Calvinists always bring up Judas, suggesting that God could not be God if Judas had repented, but He survived Nineveh. Actually, God wanted to be wrong
about Nineveh, because love influences Him. And God could have survived Judas also. If Judas had repented, Christ might have given Matthias a different task, of engraving this story into the walls of the New Jerusalem [Rev. 21:14] just beneath the name of Judas Iscariot. Calvinists do not lament the fact that Nineveh repented (true?). And it would be EXACTLY the same situation if Judas had repented.
For years at Denver Bible Church we’ve taught about non-prophecies, which are different than predictive prophecies. And if you don’t understand what a non-prophecy is, you’ll misunderstand the Old Testament “prophecies” of Judas. A predictive prophecy is one that specifically foretells the future such as Micah 5:2 that the eternal Christ would be born in Bethlehem. The non-prophecies are not predictive, and therefore cannot normally even be identified as “prophecies” until after their “fulfillment.” Non-prophecies do not predict, but in retrospect, they illustrate future events. For example, an Israelite had to kill the Passover lamb on a certain spring day every year, and although he killed the lamb, God forbade him from breaking its bones. God intended the Passover regulations as typology, that is, a type of Christ, a shadow of the Substance that would come. And even though the Passover makes no prediction of the future, it prefigured Christ in that Jesus was killed on the same day (Mat. 26:2) that Israel was killing their Passover lambs, and His bones were not broken (John 19:33).
Hundreds of non-prophecies provide great evidence for the Gospel and help corroborate to the predictive prophecies. Some skeptics claim that Jesus and the apostles set about to intentionally fulfill prophecy. However, the non-prophesies of Hebrew Scripture fill “the volume of the Book” (Heb. 10:7). The many types of Christ, non-prophecies, in the Old Testament were not predictive, but were illustrative of the Messiah. And their existence and meanings only appeared after the fact, even after the close of the New Testament, as more and more non-prophesies have been identified. Isaac illustrated Jesus when Abraham almost sacrificed his “only son” who carried the wood (Gen. 22:6; John 19:17) up Mount Moriah which is the same hill that Christ was crucified on (just a few minutes walk from the Temple uphill to the summit, 2 Chr. 3:1); and Isaac was spared by a substitute sacrifice whose head was caught in the thorns, just as Christ wore a crown of thorns (Gen. 22:13; John 19:5). Joseph illustrated the Messiah in that he was betrayed by his brothers (as Christ was betrayed by His disciple and His high priest), and as with Christ, Joseph ended up saving His people, for what these people meant for evil, God used for good (Gen. 50:20; John 11:50)! David is a type of Christ, and as the Jesus was betrayed by his disciple and those who should have been faithful to Him, so too David was betrayed by those close to him including Absalom his son and Ahithophel his counselor (2 Sam. 15:12), ones who supped with him.
After His resurrection, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, [jesus] expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” This includes the non-prophecies about Judas. Now there are a number of Old and New Testament predictive prophecies which Scripture unashamedly shows did not come to pass which we will look at in another post. For God cares more about the people than the prophecy. Of course this is not believable by the Greek-influence lesser quantitative attributes, but yet this is exactly the kind of God the Bible reveals! For example, man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath for man (Mark 2:27). And the people of Nineveh were not made for the prophecy, but the prophecy was made for the people (Jonah 4:11). So, what if the non-prophecies of Judas never were fulfilled? Well, if Judas disappointed the Calvinists by repenting, they would never have known that he let them down. For they wouldn’t be able to find a single Old Testament unfulfilled “prophecy” about Judas, because there were none (no predictive prophecies anyway)! God carved the law in stone, and He carved grace in stone in that Christ’s tomb was carved into the rock of Mount Moriah. And with the “Judas” passages, even though they spoke only of previous events without making any predictions, yet they gave God the utmost flexibility. For from God’s enemies, even though they exercised their independent wills against Him, still, He drew out from them a mountain of evidence for the Gospel. Brilliant! If the future were open to God, non-prophesies are exactly the kind of corroboration that we would expect to find woven throughout Scripture, and we do! And further, this explains the confusion so many students have who review all
of the Messianic Old Testament prophecies, who do not understand why so many of them are non-predictive. Yet these non-prophecies so powerfully substantiate Christ’s resurrection. God laid out a framework, which He would fill in as a Master Craftsman, not with cedar panels, but with the lives and deeds of headstrong men, not violating their will but turning their own wickedness in upon themselves to achieve our glorious salvation.
If we give precedent to raw knowledge over God’s love, then we wrongly think that God would prefer the fulfillment of some non-prophesies over the repentance of Judas.
Let me further establish my point. Scripture solves dilemmas by putting issues in their proper perspectives, not allowing the lesser to take precedence over the greater. Circumcision takes precedence over the Sabbath (John 7:23); feeding starving men takes precedence over symbolic showbread regulations (Mark 2:25-27); Melchizedek takes precedence over Levi (Heb. 7:4-12). This last passage even resolves the dilemma of the Levitical priesthood being set aside, and justifies the changes in practice that God now requires of believers as compared to His former commands. For “beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better” (Heb. 7:7), and “the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law” (Heb. 7:12).
Now, if God’s being personal and loving are lesser than his immutability and omniscience, then the Settled View concludes rightly. But if God’s goodness and love are greater than His unchangeableness and knowledge, the Open View rightly concludes that Judas could have repented. Sam, you criticized my new Openness-attributes hermeneutic (interpretation tool) saying that God’s attributes “cannot be separated.” But I’m trying to dissect classical theology, not God, to identify and remove Greek influence to allow Scripture to speak for itself. For example, God is loving and merciful, and these are different. And the Holy Spirit loves the Father, but is not merciful to Him, for mercy is the withholding of deserved punishment, and thus love is greater than mercy, for love is eternal, and “beyond all contradiction” the lesser is established upon the better, so that righteousness really is the foundation of God’s sovereignty over creation. And by making sovereignty co-equal with God’s righteousness, we’d fall into a form of pantheism, attributing the divinity of eternal existence to the creation, and diminishing God such that His eternal attributes could not stand alone but always needed even Man.
Consider the order of His deeper attributes, living, personal, relational, good, and loving, in reverse. God could not be loving if He were not good. And He could not know that He was good if He were not relational. And He could not be relational if He were not personal. And He could not be personal if He were not living. Certainly none of these greater, qualitative attributes depends upon God’s control (sovereignty) over the created order. Now consider the lesser, quantitative attribute of omnipresence which Tyndale Bible Dictionary (2001) defines as: that God “transcends the limitations of space and is present in all places at all times.” Most Calvinists believe that time and space came into existence at creation! And since I’m running out of both, let’s ignore time for now. Typical definitions of omnipresence depend upon the existence of “space” and “places,” neither of which existed prior to creation, requiring a “reformulation” of this doctrine also. Describing God in respect to being in
or even working in
every location is only relevant if there is a location, so men have construed an “eternal attribute” dependent upon the non-eternal created order. Oops. God can’t be everywhere, until He makes somewhere. It is commitment to their Greek-influenced foundation which biases Bible teachers toward ignoring such simple matters. Sam, I hope you can come to see that the traditional omnipresence is not a fundamental eternal attribute, but came into existence along with sovereignty, at the creation.
Quantity will always be second to quality. God is love, not data. And though I have all knowledge, but have not love, I am nothing (1 Cor. 13:2).
Let each man reading this who disagrees, if you are willing, at this very moment, settle your heart, and pray and ask God: “Lord, is love greater than knowledge?” Selah.
Did Judas Have A Necessary Role?
Sam, in Post 1a you wrote (emphasis added), “One could argue that Judas’s betrayal was a key event
in the passion, but that same argument cannot be made for Peter’s denial.” Well, what really might have happened, and how would it have affected the “prophecies,” if Judas reneged on his deal with Caiaphas to turn over Jesus?
Could God have provided for our salvation if Judas had repented? Of course! Of a thousand possibilities, Jesus could have sent Judas back to Caiaphas, to tell him that Jesus was in Gethsemane (the Lord wasn’t hiding after all) and still to refuse the payment. Even with this, some of the non-prophesies would have been fulfilled. For example they still could have used the thirty pieces of silver to buy the potter’s field, “fulfilling prophecies” of Jeremiah and Zechariah. But regardless, even if Judas played no traitor role whatsoever, not a single atheist critic of Scripture would quote any Old Testament verse as an unfulfilled “betrayal” prophecy, because they wouldn’t be able to find one
There was no lack of wicked people standing in line to crucify Jesus. With or without Judas, the high priest Caiaphas could have arrested Jesus. With or without Caiaphas, Pilate could have sentenced Christ (with any mob shouting, “We have no king but Caesar”). But what if every Jew repented, and every Gentile? If the whole world humbled itself, including Judas, Caiaphas, Herod, Pilate, and even Tiberius Caesar, absolutely everybody, then would God be unable to sacrifice His Son? No. Then He could instruct the high priest, who would be obedient, to prepare to sacrifice the Offering. “Caiaphas, stand outside the Temple, and lift up your eyes, and go, and at the top of the hill, as it was prophesied, ‘In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided,’ there on Mt. Moriah, as Abraham had readied Isaac, prepare to sacrifice My Son, Jesus. He will present Himself there. And at the moment that every family is killing their Passover lambs, you will slay the Atonement, My Holy Passover, and sprinkle His blood on the people.”
God could have planned the cross in this way. But by His understanding, He knew that men’s hearts were dark, and that there would be no end of wicked leaders, whoever they would be, to set themselves against His Son. If anything, Jesus had to make sure no one killed Him earlier than His time (Luke 4:29). But then by increasing His visibility, and by finally raising Lazarus that last week, that would provoke those who hated God to delay no longer, and to kill Him at their first opportunity (John 11:53).
Sam, I’m almost sure you’ll agree with this: God did not need Judas or anyone to provide the way of salvation.
God would not be crushed, nor would His purpose crumble, if a man failed Him. Most do. By the story of the Bible, God’s chosen servants, people ostensibly on His side
, repeatedly failed the tasks He gave them. And if God survived the failures of His servants, He could survive the failures of His enemies, including Judas. God choose Nebuchadnezzar to take Tyre, and he failed. And God eventually cut off His chosen kings Solomon and Saul, and His chosen priests Nadab, Abihu, Hophni, and Phinehas, and most of the chosen people for that matter. If your reasoning is based upon the teachings of Calvin, and so on Augustine, and so on Plato, then you’ll conclude that a failure on Judas’ part would thwart the plan of salvation and disprove Christianity. Whereas if you consciously eliminate Greek philosophy and use (BEA-SLQ2) “the nature of God… and secondarily… the overall plot of the story in His Word,” you will conclude that the God of the Bible could survive if Judas failed to conclude his betrayal.
“This Scripture had to be fulfilled… concerning Judas”
: God required Judas to do this wickedness. And by the way He will punish Him severely for it (Mat. 26:24). The attributes of immutability and omniscience mandate this interpretation.
: Peter said that it was fitting
that Old Testament passages about betrayal illustrated
The key Greek words are εδει (δει, had to) πληρωθηναι (be fulfilled). It’s been twenty years since I took a couple years of Greek, and I’ve lost much of the little skill I had, but I still enjoy struggling with translation. It is widely acknowledged that frequently, when the Hebrews meant illustrated
, they said fulfilled
. But more significant here is δει. That word can mean “had to,” as in “must” or even “compulsory divine destiny.” However leading authority Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich (BAG) list 24 δει verses under the meaning “of what is fitting
.” They list Acts 1:16 as meaning that what happened to Judas was “fitting,” that is, it behooved or was appropriate; they did not classify this under their category of “divine destiny.”
Centuries before Judas, God planned for a traitor’s role leading to the cross. Scripture recorded David’s son’s betrayal and similar accounts, not as prophecies, but as historical records. Then Jesus intentionally chose eleven men who hungered for righteousness, and one who was a thief and a liar who hated God. The devil knew the Scriptures, and yet entered Judas (Luke 22:3) to try to thwart God. Thankfully, Lucifer did not know God’s actual plan. For God wisely omitted predictive prophecies about a betrayal role (a Judas) from the Old Testament, and only published relatively hidden, non-prophesies of a general typological nature. And Satan’s blind hatred made him more vulnerable to God’s manipulation.
Notice that there is no other way to interpret Peter’s words “this Scripture had to be fulfilled” other than by the attributes of God! So, this cannot be a Calvinist proof-text, but both sides interpret it based on their primary view of God’s nature, as unchanging and controlling, or as good and loving. Beware to the Calvinist who still insists that the definition of words require this verse to mean divine destiny. Luke commonly used δει to mean ought or should or appropriate. He used δει quoting Jesus saying the Pharisees should
love and do justly (Luke 11:42, which they did not do
), and see Acts 5:29; 19:36; 24:19; 27:21; Luke 13:16; and 15:32 where it was fitting to celebrate the prodigal’s return.
Young’s Literal Translation
renders this, “it behooved this Writing that it be fulfilled…”
The Interlinear Bible
renders this, “it behooved to be fulfilled…”
Zondervan Parallel NT in Greek and English
renders it, “it behooved to be fulfilled”
Finally, “fulfilled” frequently mean illustrated because Scripture uses that word with many non-prophesies. And so the respected Word Pictures in the New Testament
gives that sense in this verse: “Peter… finds scripture illustrative
of the treachery of Judas.”
The typical Settled View answer to, “Was Jesus’ prediction about the action of Judas possibly in error?” makes almost nothing of the value of Judas as one of God’s eternal creatures. For remember that God put eternity into our hearts (Eccl. 3:11). And the Settled View answer ignores God’s desire for all rebellious people to repent, which He maintains from His last breath to theirs. (Jesus: “Father forgive them,” Luke 23:33; Criminal: “Remember me,” 23:42). With Judas, as with all the lost, the Settled View exalts the raw Greek quantitative considerations of immutability, control and knowledge over God’s ocean of mercy and love. Whereas putting God’s attributes in their proper biblical perspective allows us to hope (1 Cor. 13:7) for repentance even after a prophecy of destruction (Jer. 18:7-8). God forgave others after prophesying their destruction, and He could have forgiven Judas also.
Lastly, consider God’s knowledge of Judas even from a merely quantitative aspect. Reading the last page of a book does not indicate possession of more knowledge than someone who is able to think through to the conclusion without looking. What indicates greater knowledge, foreseeing
Judas’ betrayal, or concluding
his betrayal, based upon God’s understanding and weighing of the myriad combinations of factors between the extraordinary circumstance with Judas’ humanity, heart, strength, will, confusion, conscience, weakness, etc?
Such predictions would have proved less about God if He had looked into the future, than if “He knew what was in man” (John 2:24). For God filled Scripture with a combination of prophecies and non-prophecies, to demonstrate both His power to predict and influence events, even when individuals and the masses oppose Him. And we see the humanist influence even with the “simple foreknowledge” proponents of the Settled View, who say that God knew what Judas did because He looked into the future and saw Judas doing it. But “the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
All of Sam’s Official Questions Answered Directly
: Are there any [future] events, involving free agents, that God knows about without any possibility for error?
Yes. Countless events, for example, Judgment Day will involve every
free agent, and nothing will stop it from coming, nor the wicked from being punished.
: See BEA-SLQ2.
: Would you mind defining free-will?
I would rather define will
. For free will is a redundancy. (The phrase, free-will offering, is a figure of speech meaning an offering not specifically prescribed. And also note that will
would not exist except that God is a personal God.)
: Will is the ability to decide otherwise.
Implications: Will can only
be free, by definition. The Father wills to love the Son. Love requires will, meaning that it cannot exist apart from the ability to not love (hate).
Debates over the meaning of will tend to go around in circles. Why? Think of a word that has an original meaning, and then the same word becomes used as related figure of speech, with a meaning similar to its original meaning. That has happened with the word will
. Thus, there are four common uses of the word WILL: 1) its original definition of the ability to decide; and its uses as related figures of speech, meaning 2) ability; 3) a choice; and 4) a preference.
Thus the word WILL, has these four common uses (and others), and so people commonly confuse 1) our actual WILL with:
2) ability, power (being able to achieve what the WILL desires)
3) a choice, decision, or selection (an instance of the exercise of the WILL)
4) preferences, principles (good or bad values, that the WILL prioritizes and decides between)
Sam, you posted in 1a, “I believe free will indicates that an agent will always be free to do what he or she chooses.” This partial transcript
of our interview indicates that you agreed to my clarification that you believe that God made us so that we could only choose to do what He eternally decreed
we would choose. To make it crystal clear how far this goes for the reader who is unfamiliar with common, thoroughgoing Calvinism, you believe that our “choice” is secondary, for each decision occurs because it is completely dependent upon God’s foreordination of that specific choice. Millions of Calvinists believe that when a man cheats on his wife, while he sees it as freely following his lust, he could not have done otherwise, for it is God who wills, and who works, and who has eternally ordained the adultery. For the Christians who have not been heavily influenced by pagan Greek thought, such a statement is repulsive and recognized immediately as contrary to the goodness and love of God. The Christians who have that reaction are less likely to later accept Calvinism, and they are also more willing to consider the Open View. That it why I think Calvinists should give full disclosure right away to the uninitiated, and it is why I always work with Calvinists to bring out that clarification.
The vast majority of the 6,457 uses of will
in the NKJV are simply verbal auxiliaries for future tense, as in, “you will receive the crown.” And Calvinists rightly point out that the Bible does not speak of free will. Of course it doesn’t. That would be redundant. The will
can only be free. And Scripture mentions human will
a number of times, as in, "to will
is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find" (Rom. 7:18). Remember, the will
is an ability to decide, not an ability to accomplish, for I may will
to jump higher than I actually can. So the Bible uses the word will
in it's original meaning as an ability to decide, but also as a figure of speech to indicate an instance
of exercising the WILL, as when Paul asked his converts, "What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod...?" (1 Cor. 4:21, KJV). This word "will" does not refer to their ability
to decide, but he's asking them for an instance
of them having decided. And Scripture uses the word will
also to indicate values
that the WILL prioritizes and decides between, as in "he who stands steadfast in his heart... has power over his own will" (1 Cor. 7:37). This word "will" does not refer to his ability
to decide, but that maturity in Christ will enable his will to select properly between different sets of values, some good and some bad.
Finally, the triply redundant common term libertarian free will
has effectively the same definition as mine—that will
is the ability to decide other than you do decide.
: Was Jesus’ prediction about the action of Judas possibly in error?
Yes. Jesus would have rejoiced if Judas would have repented.
: Did God know that Christ would die by crucifixion before the actual event happened? If so, how far in advance did he know this?
Yes. God planned before creation that if man sinned, He would provide salvation. He could have determined the form of the sacrifice anytime from His inception of that plan onward, and God gave a prophecy of the crucifixion a millennium earlier in Psalm 22:16.
: Is it possible for God’s prophecy to be incorrect?
Yes. As Jesus said, valuing souls more than He worried about a prophecy not coming to pass, “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment… for they repented” (Luke 11:32). They are living proof that “God relented [Hebrew, repented] from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it
” (Jonah 3:10; Jer. 18:7-8).
: Does God hold any beliefs that are or might prove to be false?
No. But belief speaks of knowledge. Remember that words have spheres of meaning, and beliefs, expectations, prophecies, and knowledge all have ranges that overlap; and belief also means trust, faith, religion, etc. But to answer, I am using the core meaning of belief for the context of your question. For example, hope is different than knowledge. For knowledge is the correct understanding of raw data, whereas hope is the desire for good which can persevere even against a mountain of foreboding knowledge. Love “hopes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7), while exhaustive foreknowledge cannot. Yet God is love. So when God describes what He hopes or expects that men will do, love influences that expectation. So He hopes for the best (even if that hope is delivered as a threat of destruction). Love can function, and God can hope because the future is Open, whereas the Settled View must wrestle to accommodate biblical expressions of God’s hope.
Sam, is it becoming clear that my answer (BEA-SLQ2) is not vague as you criticized? Recall that I even gave a specific example of applying this hermeneutic (principle of interpretation) on two contrasting Pauline ALL verses. How do we more accurately interpret the entire Scripture, including figures like anthropomorphisms? By NOAH! That is, we interpret Scripture by the New Openness-Attributes Hermeneutic. (It’s not really new, for all who taught God as He really is have intuitively used it, but I’ve never seen it succinctly described before.) Thus when considering any matter in which righteousness might conflict with divine knowledge and control, “beyond all contradiction” God would have us interpret righteousness as taking precedence. To do otherwise is to throw the ark out with the rainwater.
: Sam, will you retract your criticism that my Attributes Hermeneutic was “so broad as to be virtually pointless?” Now that you've seen my NOAH interpretation method demonstrated again by using it in the exact same way I did in my first post to resolve an apparent conflict in Pauline passages, but this to answer your question about Judas. Please remember, I am not here asking you if you agree with the method, but just if it is a clear method.
: Which describes something deeper within God, descriptions of Him that are dependent upon His creation, or descriptions of God that are true within God Himself, apart from any consideration of man?
: Sam, which is greater, God’s sovereignty over creation, or God’s love?
: Sam, since your answer (SLA-BEQ1) restated my question, I am asking you to answer it again, without using the word “total.” You answered, “Since Bob cites Dr. Reymond’s text, I will say that the doctrine as it is set forth by Reymond does not need total
reformulation.” My question is, “Sam, do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs reformulation in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change (for example, as Ware says, especially to allow for true relationship)?”
: Sam, you wrote, “In the section on God as unchangeable in his being, Dr. Reymond cites no less than 24 passages of Scripture!” I’m having a hard time identifying those passages in Section 7 of his systematic theology book (pp. 153-203), and I would be thankful if you could just cite a list of these proof-texts for God being “unchangeable in his being.” Thanks!
Pastor Bob Enyart
Denver Bible Church