Nov 20, 2010

Debate Review 4

4th Night Questions To Bruce Reeves

1. Does God have prescience (foreknowledge) of all things?

2. Is God ominipotent?

3. Is Romans 9: 9-16 dealing with salvation?

4. In tracing the chain of causes back to the first cause, what do you find as the first cause?

5. How do you reconcile verses that say God does not change or repent with your understanding of Jeremiah 18: 8.

Does God have prescience (foreknowledge) of all things?

Bruce said "no." He said "God knows all he wants to know." And, in answer to the second question, affirmed that God was indeed "omnipotent." Some of my brethren stated to me, after the speeches for the night concluded, how this was a gross contradiction, to affirm that God was not all knowing but that he was all powerful! Amen!

I, on the other hand, went to the scriptures to show that God did in fact know all things, verses which Bruce never bothered to give a reply. Here are the verses I cited and had on a chart.

"Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15: 18)

"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." (Isa. 46: 9, 10)

"Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together." (Isa. 41: 23)

"For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things." (I John 3: 20)

"O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether." (Psa. 139: 1-4)

These verses teach the absolute and universal foreknowledge of God and my opponent is in rebellion against scripture in denying them.

Later in the debate, I asked these questions relative to God's foreknowledge of all things.

"God foresaw that Adam would sin and become condemned even before he created him. Now, let us suppose that God foresaw that Adam would reject God's offer of pardon throughout his life and die unpardoned and go to eternal torment. In such a case God goes ahead and creates Adam any way. Can my opponent defend God in doing this? Must he not acknowledge that God created Adam, in this case, knowing it would mean creating him for eternal destruction? Must he not also affirm that God created the human race, knowing in advance that the vast majority would come into the world doomed for hell?"

My opponent never answered this! All he could do was appeal to men's natural depravity, to their bias against the knowledge of God, and say "Garrett believes God creates men for destruction!" Yet, as I showed, any who believes in the foreknowledge of God, as taught in scripture, must acknowledge that God creates men for destruction.

Is Romans 9: 9-16 dealing with salvation?

Bruce affirmed that "all of Romans nine is dealing with salvation." What he denied, however, was that Romans nine was dealing with personal salvation. I never denied that the salvation of the corporate nation of Israel was taught, especially in Romans 11, but that it chiefly dealt with the salvation of the Israel within Israel, of the "remnant," of the "called out ones from among the Gentiles," of the elect among Israel and the nations. Bruce believed that Romans 9-11 only dealt with salvation in an indirect way, with how God raised up Israel to be a means in providing Christ and thus, indirectly, with providing salvation.

What do you find as the first cause?

"In tracing the chain of causes back to the first cause, what do you find as the first cause?"

I asked this question because Bruce had asked me a similar question on the first night. He asked me if I believed that God was the "first cause of all things," including evil. I stated that God was the "first cause" but not the "efficient cause" of all things. Bruce answered my question by asking me this question - "first cause of what?" I was surprised by this reply. Bruce showed a gross ignorance, willful or othewise, on the subject of causality. He, like some of his predecessors with whom I have debated this subject, think there is only one kind of "cause," and don't seem to want to allow that a person or thing can be a "cause" in various senses and is why adjectives are put before the word. Thus men speak regularly of "first cause," "second cause," "intermediate cause," "indirect cause," "instrumental cause," "primary cause," "final or end cause," "efficient cause," "material cause," "formal cause," etc. In my rebuttal to my opponent's question "cause of what?" I said "the first cause of all causes, the reason upon which all other reasons are based." My opponent's rejecting God as the first cause of all things is just pure ignorance, both of scripture and the first principles of science.

I also responded by having a couple charts on "God the First Cause." I cited several verses which affirmed that God was the first cause of all things. I first cited Romans 11: 36.

"For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."

Obviously "all things" are "of him" because he is the first cause, the primal source of all things. God, based upon these words, may be called the first, or material, or formal cause of all things.

I also cited these words:

"Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?" (Lam. 3: 37)

I showed that this divine rhetorical taught that nothing "comes to pass" apart from the Lord's will, or his command. All my opponent could do was to cite the next verse as somehow contradicting the verse cited. The next verse reads:

"Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?"

My opponent made his argument in his last speech of the debate and I did not have a chance to respond to it. But, he read verse 38 as if it was a statement of fact, affirming that both good and evil did not proceed from "the most High." Yet, the verse is not a statement but another rhetorical with the implied answer being that both evil and good proceed from the Lord. Thus, my opponent made the verse to say the opposite of what the verse says! What is stated in this verse is stated in other verses, particularly in Job where Job ascribes all his evils to the hand of the Lord.

I also cited Isaiah 45: 7.

"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."

My opponent never responded to this verse.

God Repenting

"How do you reconcile verses that say God does not change or repent with your understanding of Jeremiah 18: 8?"

His answer to this question was quite right, for he stated that the verse did not affirm any change in God's character. The verse does indicate a change in God's behavior towards people.

My opponent, however, did not realize that the verse in Jer. 18: 8, where God basically says "I'll repent if you repent," does not indicate that the cause of the repentance was not in God, or that repentance was not God's work and gift. I cited II Tim. 2: 24, 25 where Paul said:

"And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."

The repentance of any man, Paul affirms, is due to the Lord giving repentance. That "peradventure" alludes to a choice on the part of God to give repentance or not give it.

The failure of Arminians is that they don't see that there is a prior condition required for any man meeting the condition of repentance. Any man's repentance is itself conditioned upon the work of God.

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