OpenTheism.org hosted the debate between leading reformed theologian Dr. James White and OT proponent Pastor Bob Enyart before a live audience on July 8, 2014 in downtown Denver's historic Brown Palace hotel. This 2-minute video documents the shocking aftermath involving R.C. Sproul Jr. and James White:
* James White's 2015 Article: Six months later, James White wrote yet another article on the debate aftermath and as previously, he again failed to quote himself or R.C. Sproul Jr. in his defense of what they wrote. Dr. White has produced three videos and two articles dealing with the debate aftermath, and in all that he has yet to quote his own very brief comment (from below) that has us so very concerned, when he wrote (in agreement with R.C.), shockingly that: "God the Son does not have two natures. I did not 'admit' that He did/does/will etc." Our great concern about James White is not that he did admit, five times as in that 2-minute video, that God the Son has two natures. Sadly, contradicting oneself is terribly common. What is not common though is leading Reformed theologians making heretical statements (heretical, even in the opinion of their own orthodox tradition). That is what scares us. Their statements are on the wrong side of Scripture (as shown below), the wrong side of the Incarnation (which is the central doctrine of Christianity), the wrong side of the Chalcedon creed, and the wrong side of the Nestorian heresy (which R.C. Sproul Sr. has clearly written about). So, on his Facebook posting, Alpha Omega Ministries has yet to answer the question we posed: "James White, do you affirm that the Second Person of the Trinity has both a divine and a human nature?"
Debate highlights, transcripts, analysis, and the aftermath are all documented just below. You can also enjoy the full debate right here:
* Bob's Opening Statement: see transcript below.
* Bob's First Rebuttal: on the Isaiah "deity test": see transcript below.
* Debate Video: Get the high definition video of the debate from our Open Theism store (and at the tab above).
* God's Attributes Highlighting Methodology: see below.
* Post Debate Analysis: by James White and by Bob Enyart.
* The 15 Scriptures on God the Son's Humanity
* The Shocking Debate Aftermath: see below. See select comments about the debate. R.C. Sproul Jr. & James White both, startlingly, deny below that God the Son took upon Himself a human nature. Sproul: "God the Son does not now nor has He ever had two natures." White: "God the Son does not have two natures. I did not 'admit' that He did/does/will etc." They are currently denying this central doctrine of Christianity (hopefully only temporarily, and hopefully, they will simply retract their comments) because they are trying to defend the claim from Plato devotee Augustine that God is timeless (thus without sequence) and that He is utterly immutable. Please pray for these men who clearly love the Lord but who are subordinating the biblical Incarnate Son of God to Platonic utter immutability.
* BOB ENYART'S OPENING STATEMENT: Greetings everyone and hello James White. I am Bob Enyart, pastor of Denver Bible Church. Of course, regardless of our differences, I am thankful that James White loves the Lord, and mostly, that God so loved the world that He sent Jesus Christ to die for those who could not save themselves, and to give eternal life to those who trust Him.
Open Theism is the Christian doctrine that the future is not settled but open, because God is alive, eternally free, and inexhaustibly creative. The Settled View disagrees, and as a result, claims that God cannot think a new thought, and so His creativity is not inexhaustible, but completed. Open Theism grows as Christians realize that its foundation is not based on man, but rather, on God’s freedom.
I will show tonight that the future is open, based on three fundamental truths, God’s freedom, His attributes, and the Incarnation.
The first is God’s freedom, for He is eternally free. In the redundant terminology of theologians, we would say that God has libertarian free will. And if God is free, right now, and forever, then the future must be open.
Secondly, we will show that the Bible’s five main attributes of God are different from the five main philosophical attributes of God, which come from pagan Greek philosophy. I will attempt to show you, visually, by flipping through the pages of the Bible, in a way that your eyes may actually help you perceive, that: the five biblical attributes of God, being living, personal, relational, good, and loving, are way more important to God, and a better description of God. And that the biblical attributes of God teach an open future. We will see that theologians like Dr. White hold the Settled View by using the philosophical and not the biblical attributes of God.
And thirdly, the Incarnation irrefutably shows that God is not outside of time. The Incarnation proves that God is not outside of time because the life of God the Son is being lived in a sequence. First, He existed through eternity past with only one nature, a divine nature, not having a human nature. Then, by the Incarnation, He became a Man, even, the Son of Man, taking upon Himself a second nature, our human nature. So that now and forever, He is both God the Son and the Man, Jesus Christ. For 1600 years the church has argued that the future must be settled because God is outside of time, but that collapses by the force of the central doctrine of Christianity: the Incarnation.
Now let’s look at those three truths, starting with the Incarnation. The Incarnation shows that God is not outside of time, because God has a past. For God the Son was not eternally a Man. Back before the Incarnation, the books of Numbers and First Samuel explicitly state, that God was not a man. Moses even wrote that God is not a man, nor a son of man. So in God’s past, God the Son was not a man, and had only a divine nature, which was perfect. Then, He became a Man, as the Bible says, and became is a word that indicates change, and He took on a human nature. So now He has two natures, which is still perfect.
That proves that that God lives in sequence, which also shows that God is not outside of time, and that perfect things can change, contrary to the doctrine of immutability. James White does not believe that God experiences sequence, but I posit that the sequence experienced by God through the incarnation is irrefutable.
(Now for those who think that time was created by God, and not an aspect of His existence, please consider that time cannot be created. Why not? Because creation means going from non-existence to existence, which itself is a before and an after. And since time therefore is a pre-condition of creating, time itself cannot be created.)
Now to the second reason for an open future, the attributes of God. see more...
I’ll start with what James always says is one of his strongest arguments. He opened to Isaiah. Reading Isaiah 40 – 48 through the lens of the OMNIs and IMs, Settled View theologians see exhaustive foreknowledge in this passage, but they do so by greatly exaggerating what is there.
They call it a deity test, which boils down to two things. God names a future king, Cyrus, and God declares the end from the beginning, which is either big picture, from the very beginning, to the very end, or short term, moral or political outcomes over a period of days or even centuries. From the beginning, in Genesis 2, God declared life to those who obey Him, and death to those who disobey, and in Genesis 3 that the seed of the woman would deal a fatal blow to Satan. That’s what God declared from the beginning.
Settled view proponents, even the presuppositionalists, say frequently that this is a deity test, with God giving the evidence that He is God. But instead, the entire context is a comparison between God and the stone idol. God says, go ahead; Let your stone idol sin. Let’s see if it can sin. Of course it can’t sin; it’s a stone.
That idol actually does, in reality, have an attribute called impeccability, which means an inability to sin. So that stone is impeccable. By the way, that’s another of the OMNIs and IMs, right?, Impeccability, which James White, and settled viewers generally, hold to, an inability to sin. Significantly, a stone idol has three of their philosophical attributes of God: it is impassible, immutable, and impeccable. Impassible, because it has no emotion. It’s a stone. Immutable, because it can’t change, and impeccability, because it cannot sin. Whichever entities the IMs actually describe, they preclude living beings. You cannot be alive, and have the IMs.
In Isaiah, with God predicting a future king’s name, in Luke chapter 1 God wants two babies named, one John, and the other Jesus. Joseph was a righteous stepfather, and immediately would comply with the Lord’s desire. Zacharias was doubting; he questioned the angel, and was struck mute, until, the very moment, nine months later, when he wrote, His name is John. The Settled View is maintained by presuming that if God doesn’t see something in advance, or didn’t decree it, then He therefore, and I hate even to say these words, but it is how they calculate, if God doesn’t see it or decree it, then He is completely incompetent and powerless. But in an instant God could devise a thousand ways to get something done.
Getting someone to do something is easy, getting them to humble themselves and repent is hard; it’s harder than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, which by the way, speaks against Calvin’s Irresistible Grace, because if that doctrine were true, it would be as easy for a rich man to be saved as for a poor man, as for the whole world; which by the way also testifies against love, because love is commitment to the good of someone, and there are sins of commission, hurting someone, and sins of omission, not loving them. Which is why Calvinism has a hard time showing God’s goodness and love, whereas even James White has admitted that Open Theism has no trouble defending God’s goodness, and that is because open theism is based on God being personal, good, and loving, and so His goodness is apparent, from beginning to end.
So, what they call a deity test is not, for if it were, then Joshua’s generation would have had to conclude, that God was not God. For the Lord told that them, quote, “I will, without fail, drive out from before you the Canaanites,” but just one generation later, God said, “I will no longer drive them out.” So, if this were a short-term deity test, since the prophecy did not come to pass, just as Jonah’s generation would have had to conclude, they would decide that God wasn’t God; and if it’s the long-term deity test, then the test is not yet complete, and the jury would still be out, because they would have to wait until the end, to decide if He passed the test, but, thankfully, the end will never come.
Instead, God is simply saying that He is alive, the stone idols are dead. God is wise and capable, He says He has spoken it, and will bring it to pass, whereas they know nothing, and can’t even sin.
An American president likewise predicted an outcome that would take years, dozens of nations, and hundreds of millions of individual human beings. [FDR audio clip: "...we will gain the inevitable triumph... the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory."] FDR did not have exhaustive foreknowledge; instead, he had a determination and power.
So, Isaiah is not an evidentiary deity test, and even James White’s favorite anti-open-theist author, Bruce Ware (p. 113), says of Isaiah 45, which he can say of the entire passage, that quote, “this text stops short of explicitly asserting God’s exhaustive knowledge”, yeah, stops short, by a billion years, stops short, by an eternity of Him thinking new thoughts and writing new songs.
Taking off the OMNIs and IMs glasses, and reading with the biblical attributes in mind, we see that this is not a deity test, but a declaration that God is alive. And we see that it nowhere states that every detail, even mundane things back then were settled, let alone, for all of eternity, removes this as evidence for exhaustive foreknowledge.
Settled View authors point to Isaiah as among strongest biblical evidence, even though in no way does it say that the future is settled.
THE DEBATE AFTERMATH: In the immediate aftermath of the debate, regarding a divine and a human nature, three startling comments were made, by R.C. Sproul Jr. and James White, insisting that God the Son does not have two natures. For example, on the debate organizer's Facebook page:
R.C. Sproul Jr. God the Son didn't go from one nature to two. God the Son didn't have a human nature. Jesus did.
Two of these comments were made publicly, and the third comment, in support of the first two, was made privately. Settled View proponents R.C. Sproul, Jr. twice posted on the debate organizer's Facebook page and then Dr. James White via email supported Sroul's shocking comments. The most influential theologians, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin, never addressed the question that this debate has pushed Sproul and White to wrestle with: Doesn't the Son's Incarnation disprove Plato's teaching of utter divine immutability? The OpenTheism.org team has long observed that in their efforts to deny this observation, individual, generally unknown, Calvinists and Arminians, make it sound like there are four persons of the Trinity. (See this from prior to the debate at kgov.com/time#fourth-person.) This is the first time that we are aware of that high profile Calvinists have publicly addressed this qustion. And as a tragic result of their comments, there are individual Calvinists around the country who are beginning to argue, undermining the central doctrine of Christianity, that God the Son never took on a human nature. This is horrifying to us. They are claiming that it was Jesus who took on a human nature, but that God the Son did not take on a human nature. Of course, humanity didn't put on humanity, but rather, the Person of God the Son is the Person of Jesus Christ, there is one person there, not two, and that one person is the second person of the Trinity, and it is God the Son who became flesh and dwelt among us. In the first question of the cross-examination, Bob Enyart asked James White, "When God the Son went from one nature (divine) to two natures (divine and human), was that a change?" James White answered: "No." Then, on July 9th, 2014, on the Facebook page of debate organizer Will Duffy, R.C. Sproul Jr. wrote:
R.c. Sproul Jr. God the Son didn't go from one nature to two. God the Son didn't have a human nature. Jesus did.
Will Duffy R.C. Sproul Jr., thanks for your comment. I've noticed for years that theologians have an extremely hard time regarding the Incarnation. That is why theologians for centuries have not dealt with it [regarding immutability and timelessness], including Augustine, Boethius, Aquinas, Luther and Calvin.
Traditional Christianity believes that God the Son still has a human nature in the eternal state. (See the Creed of Chalcedon.) Do you agree that God the Son even now has two natures for all of eternity?
R.c. Sproul Jr. God the Son does not now nor has He ever had two natures. Jesus, however, has two natures in one person. That's my point. To say that "God the Son has a human nature" is word salad, making no more sense than saying "Jesus the man has a divine nature."
Will Duffy R.c. Sproul Jr., that's interesting. I'll have to think about what you're saying. I've never heard this from any theologian. Even James White agreed last night that God the Son has two natures in what theologians call the "hypostatic union," which [term] originated at Chalcedon. Here's a small quote from the creed itself:
"...acknowledged in Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the difference of the Natures being in no way removed because of the Union, but rather the properties of each Nature being preserved, and (both) concurring into One Person and One Hypostasis..."
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: James White <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 4:02 PM
Subject: Michael Sugar [guest host of Bob Enyart Live the day after the debate]
To: "Will Duffy firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
"God the Son does not have two natures. I did not 'admit' that He did/does/will etc. Jesus of Nazareth was one Person with two natures."
15 SCRIPTURES ON THE HUMANITY OF GOD THE SON each of which proves that God is in time because He was NOT a man for eternity past; Jesus did NOT have what theologians call the hypostatic union, being fully God and fully man, for eternity past, and the Father was NOT the father of a Son with two natures, human and divine, for eternity past.
- Gal. 4:4 "God sent forth His Son, born of a woman"
- 1 Tim. 3:16 "God was manifested in the flesh…"
- Rom. 8:3 God sent "His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh"
- Mat. 3:17 At Jesus baptism "a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son"
- Isa. 9:6 "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given... And His name will be called... Mighty God"
- 1 Cor. 15:27 "The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven."
- John 1:1, 14 "the Word was God… And the Word became flesh…"
- John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son"
- Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little... yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." That is, the eternal Son shall be born in Bethlehem.
- Philippians 2:6-8 shows that it could not be the "man" who "humbled Himself" by "coming in the likeness of men." Rather, the person of the Son, who had previously existed only "in the form of God", is the person who "made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant" and came "in the likeness of men"
- 1 Tim. 2:5 "for there is one God and one Mediator... the Man Christ Jesus"
- Rom. 8:29, 32 speaking of "His Son... the firstborn among many brethren", God "did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up"
- Rom. 1:3-4 "concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born... according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God"
- Mat. 3:16-17 "Jesus came up... And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son...'" Though because of his commitment to Plato's timelessness and utter immutability, Augustine claimed that it was impossible for God the Father to talk. Speaking requires putting one word after another. Those who, like Augustine, take Plato's doctrine of atemporality seriously, deny that God is capable of doing anything in sequence. Hence, Augustine concluded, against thousands of Bible verses that say otherwise, that God cannot talk. James White follows Calvin and Augustine who interpret the Bible figuratively wherever necessary in order to take Plato literally (and on divine attributes, inerrantly). So Augustine claimed that because the Father could not possibly utter even these particular words to His own Son, that therefore, an angel must have made this statement. If you discount Plato, then Augustine is the most influential theologian to both Calvinists and Arminians. And in his book Confessions, he insisted, not based on the biblical material (which is overwhelmingly contrary, see below) but by his commitment to pagan Greek philosophy, that God must be utterly timeless; so therefore, God cannot speak, because that would require putting one word after another. Really.
- Rom. 9:5 "according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God."
- See also Heb. 13:8; Isa. 7:14; Jer. 23:5-6; Mat. 22:41-46; Luke 1:31-32, 35; Acts 9:20; 13:33; 1 Thes. 1:10; 1 John 1:3; 1 John 4:9, 14-15; etc. For example, Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Settled view theologians use this verse to assert timelessness and immutability even though as with hundreds of other verses, on its face, it presents God as existing in time, remaining the same from the past, through the present, and faithfully into the future. Above, James White and R.C. Sproul Jr. deny, horrifically, that God the Son has two natures. James White has debated dozens of heretics; yet with this debate, he became the heretic. Sproul and White contradict all Scripture (and also contradict their oft-quoted creeds and appeals to tradition). Why? In trying to win the aftermath of the debate, they are clinging to the unbiblical and outdated philosophical notion that God cannot change. Hebrews 13 affirms God's faithfulness, something that Calvinists and Arminians discount as a positive attribute. Instead they see steadfastness not as something that God does, but as what He cannot do. However, anything that remains the same, like a stone idol, because it cannot change is not especially praiseworthy for not changing. James White stated in the debate that if God were free He could not be trusted. Though this is shocking, it is claimed typically in defense of the Settled View, including by reformed theologian Dr. Lamerson in Battle Royale X, writing, "What if God decides that he does not want to... how can we be sure that God will always... how can he or I be sure that what he gives to me will be good?" Denying Enyart's claim that, "Jesus was a free moral agent", at 1:03:31 James White said, "Friends, that's why I am here this evening, because if that's the case, we have no trust..." That is, White argues, if God is free, He can not be trusted.) However, the persons of the Trinity can be trusted with free will because throughout eternity past they have never betrayed the trust put in them, and also, because to save us the Father sacrificed His Son. Thus, God's faithfulness is not trustworthy because of what He cannot do, that is, because He cannot do otherwise, but because of His fierce commitment to righteousness. We can trust that His mercies are new every morning, not because of the quantitative attributes of how much or how little He can change, but because He is good. If Hebrews 13:8 indicated that "Jesus Christ" were timeless and immutable, that would mean that He had two natures through eternity past, and would make Him eternally the "Son of Man", and even the Son of Mary, such that God never knew any existence apart from mankind, apart from Mary, apart from James White, apart from you (the reader), which would mean that God required you just so that He could be divine, which, no criticism of you, is an absurdity. This verse simply and directly means that God the Son, who is and who was and who is to come, has always been righteous and that we can forever trust His goodness and love.
* 2016 Aftermath Update: We have feared for years that when reformed Christians, and possibly other Settled Viewers, realize that the Incarnation is incompatible with immutability and divine timelessness, that they will compromise on the Incarnation rather than even question their commitment to the extra-biblical Platonic doctrines of timelessness and utter immutability. We wish that the best example we would ever have of that fear coming true would be from a young believer whom no one had ever heard of. It grieves us to read these startling claims from R.C. Sproul Jr. and James White. Have either of these men ever uttered such things before? Of course not. Have any of the theologians they've long admired ever uttered such things before? Of course not. Is it part of their church history, tradition, creeds, or confessions, that God the Son never took upon Himself a human nature? Of course not. The most popular and influential theologians have been given a pass, a long, long pass, never being asked to publicly defend immutability in the light of the Incarnation. After reading these comments from Sproul and White, our whole team is devastated.
* 2018 Aftermath Update: [draft for now, in Dec. 2017]
Sadly, this Christological heresy is metastazing as Calvinists are being challenged with the Incarnation. More are openly saying in public forums that God the Son does not have nor did He take on a human nature. As the Incarnation best exposes all falsehood, it also, better than any other possible argument, best exposes the errors of atemporality, utter immutability, and the settled future. Here are questions to ask the Calvinist who is denying the Incarnation (i.e., denying that God the Son became a Man).
- Who was it who became a Man? Who took on a human nature?
- Who became flesh? Who was the Word?
- Are Jesus and God the Son the same Person?
- Did Jesus exist before the Incarnation? If so, who was He before the Incarnation?
- Is Jesus God the Son? Does God have two sons, Jesus, AND the Son?
- Do you worship Jesus? Do you worship the Son? The Father? The Holy Spirit?
- Are there FOUR persons of the Trinity, or only two?
From our article at kgov.com/time: (Google ranks this #1 of millions for: Is God outside of time.)
- in an eternal now,
- atemporal and outside of time
- not was, nor will be, but only is
- has no past
- has no future.
Of course NOT ONE of these phrases is in the Bible. They're from Plato. And they're uncritically repeated by the Christian authors of typical systematic theology textbooks, and therefore, taught to young ministers in seminary.
In this section heading above, the word Greek does not refer, as many would assume, to the text of the New Testament that was originally written in Greek. Rather, it was used to refer to pagan Greek philosophy, which insisted that God exists outside of time. In contrast, the Hebrew and Greek terms in the Bible about God and time are TOTALLY different and refer not to timelessness but to unending duration. The phrases in the Scriptures all speak of God existing through unending time and an everlasting duration. The above timelessness terms are foreign to the reader of God's Word, whereas the Bible's many terms, as listed below, are all so very familiar from our reading of Scripture.
When Reading Your Bible, We See that God:
is - and was - and is to come - Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting - Forever and ever - The Ancient of Days - From before the ages of the ages - From ancient times - the everlasting God - He continues forever - From of old - Remains forever - Immortal - The Lord shall endure forever - Who lives forever - God’s years - manifest in His own time - Everlasting Father - Alive forevermore - Always lives - Forever - Continually - God’s years never end - From everlasting to everlasting - From that time forward, even forever - And of His kingdom there will be no end.
* More Open Theism Information: Thank you for your interest in God's nature, and especially, for your love for the Lord and for the innocent! The only Open Theism debate with an Arminian that we know of is Will Duffy vs. Pastor Jaltus. Bob Enyart's most extensive OT debate was hosted by our own TheologyOnline.com with Dr. Samuel Lamerson, the late D. James Kennedy's professor of New Testament: Is the Future Settled or Open? And on America's most powerful Christian radio station, Denver's 50,000-watt AM 670 KLTT, you can hear Bob's broadcast of his debate with James White, along with the open theist analysis of each of the debate segments, all at kgov.com/james-white. See also Chris Fisher Debates a Calvinist and Fisher's analysis of the White vs. Enyart debate. For more OT action, click on our Debates tab atop this page, and you just might like Bob's many informal debates on topics including creation, evolution, and the big bang with theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, with Scientific American editor Michael Shermer, and with many others, at kgov.com/debates.
Finally, you're invited to enjoy Bob Enyart's sermon below, Chosen: It's Not What You Think which documents that many of the chosen priests, even those chosen by name to serve God forever, along with most of the chosen people, went to hell.