Jesse Morell demolished Matt Slick due to a more Biblical theology view as well as superior debate ethics
The entire debate can be found here, together with an outline of Jesse’s presentation in case you missed it.
I do not believe there will ever be a debate with a Calvinist who does not charge the other for misunderstanding or misrepresenting Calvinism. My views are as follows.
Best theology (regardless of presentation) – Winner is Jesse, but he had an easy task before him since it is definitely not hard to find scriptures which contradict Calvinism and support free will. The teaching of free will (as in the logical and traditional understanding of the word – as in being able to make contrary choices) is taught throughout the Bible, and the Bible is actually a book describing people who constantly act against the will of God (all of his multiple wills, if you will). Man’s free will is so obvious that the only way to get around it is to change the meaning of the word as well as twisting a lot of verses, and that is a common skill among Calvinists. (Those who have attended reformed Bible schools are particularly gifted in this area.) The only other option to free will is that God has created most of us to believe we have free will even though we do not.
So it looks like people who “falsely” believe in free will still act according to God’s will since nothing happens against his will. Calvinism is contradictory to its core, and the amount of Calvinists who are able to be consistent with their own doctrines is zero. Matt Slick did not change this number. Most Calvinists constantly express themselves as though we have free will (a libertarian free will), and they often criticize others and urge them to repent – as though the unrepentant could make this decision of his own and as though a mere person could influence someone to repent even though God has already made his decrees. Matt repeatedly warned Jesse to correct his ways and views as though Jesse has made the wrong theological choices contrary to God’s desires. Apparently God’s irresistible decrees do not always come about, if people believe in heresy against his will? How hard it is for Calvinists do be consistent with their semi-gnostic philosophy. Also the old church fathers before Augustine (who brought so many heresies into church) believed in man’s (libertarian) free will, and none believed in a depraved/ruined nature as can be seen here.
Best presentation and ability to stay on topic – Winner is Jesse who demolished Matt Slick. Jesse showed way more confidence and calmness in his speech despite that Matt sat beside him repeatedly flipping though his papers, adjusting his computer, rearranging stuff on his desk, making shoulder gymnastics, etc. While both naturally provided lots of scriptures and showed great Biblical knowledge, Jesse managed to squeeze in more scriptures without being boring, and selected clear verses which stood as great examples for man’s free will, synergism, and that God’s will does not always happen. Most importantly, he broke apart the verses that Matt provided for his case and when including the entire context the verses in no way confirm the Calvinistic stance but the exact opposite. Jesse spoke with authority without insulting the other person’s character, but rather explained why the teachings of Gnosticism and Calvinism are unbiblical heresies which also the early church fathers fought against. Jesse was way more organized also in his appearance, and unlike Slick he did not desperately search through his notes, folders or a computer. Jesse did not even bring a computer (he had his phone if needed) but trusted solely on his written material as well his book. He seemed to know his material as well as Bible verses by heart and acted as a real pro.
The fact that Matt Slick brought up the topic of open theism shows his desperation, because the topic was rather free will vs election (of human beings). Discussing open theism takes a lot of time and deserves a debate of its own. If Jesse would have spent time responding to Matt’s attempt to go down that rabbit hole, then it is a good guess that Matt would respond back and the debate would set off in a direction which was not intended. A skilled and polite debater knows how to stay on topic rather than getting off the track. It is common that debaters bring up other topics when they cannot refute the current ones on the table.
Most humble attitude and ability to present criticism without insults – Winner is Jesse who was far from being arrogant. “You shall know them by their fruit”, and it is quite obvious who showed good fruit and who has more to learn. Matt revealed a lot about himself when he made so many faces during his opponent’s speech. I prefer to believe he was nervous rather than purposely trying to disturb his opponent, but it definitely looked disrespectful. The more time that passed, the more faces Matt made and I even saw him forming words with his mouth during Jesse’s later talks (hopefully not saying the words out loud). Maybe Matt reacted in this way because he is so used to his own Calvinistic environment where he does not get a lot of opposition like he did now.
Matt said something about seeing himself as the worst of sinners (listen to the debate to hear his exact phrase), and some people in the audience reacted on that during the Q & A section. Matt sighed about their questions and asked if they would like to know what he meant by that statement. It appears that he disapproved of people who took him by his words, rather than understanding there might be an underlying meaning. It is true that false accusations and misrepresentations should best be avoided, but Matt is pretty good at it himself (and I have listened to his radio shows so I know what I am talking about). When he later asked a girl if she was perfect and she said yes, then he replied something like “Oh, so you’re divine!”, which she of course never claimed to be. Naturally Matt did not believe it either, but would he like to know what she meant by her affirmation? Could there be an underlying meaning? The fact is that it is possible to be perfect without being divine, so Matt did not need to make this accusation. She did not even claim to never having sinned. Jesus told us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, which means that we can. The question is rather what it MEANS, and it is quite clear that Matt feels that he has the right definition.
Some people in the audience could have sounded friendlier, focusing on formulating the question rather than “telling” the debaters things, but then it is important to criticize the individuals it concerns rather than judging the entire audience as a group. In Matt’s case he should of course take it up with God if he believes that nothing comes to pass against his will. A consistent Calvinist should know that criticism about anything or anyone is criticism against God himself.
OUR good works will glorify God
If good works will glorify God, then it is hard to understand why God would force people to be wicked non-elect from the foundation of the world and send them to hell because of it (as though they could have made another option contrary to his decrees). Matt would likely protest against this description about forcing, but that is exactly what his doctrines about total depravity and predestination suggest and what Calvin and Calvinistic scholars have admitted (Jesse quoted some of them, but there are plenty more).
The idea that Jesus can transfer HIS righteousness into us is not a Biblical idea. We can of course read about “imputed righteousness”, and it means to be regarded/reckoned as righteous because we ARE. We are, because we have been totally cleansed in the blood of Jesus and left our old sinful man behind.
Matt. 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see YOUR GOOD WORKS, and GLORIFY your Father which is in heaven.1—19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, AND SHALL TEACH MEN SO, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall DO AND TEACH THEM, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I say unto you, That EXCEPT YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL EXCEED the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Who would Matt Slick side with in Matt 5:16-20? The one who does the commandments (obeys them) and teach others that it is possible to do so? That is not the impression I got from the debate. He rather warned Jesse about the teaching that it is possible to refrain from all sin and that we are the ones who must live holy lives rather than leaning on someone else’s righteousness and continue sinning. Jesse is apparently in deep trouble for teaching the importance of being victorious over sin and being able to be completely faithful to Jesus by the way we are living (rather than relying on someone else’s righteousness being transferred into us). Is God particularly mad at those who live holy lives and teach others to do the same? If this is not what Matt meant, then maybe he should not have complained about Jesse’s holiness-teaching but rather supported him. Righteous people will go to heaven and sinners will go to hell. Not the other way around! The Bible provides a warning about teachers who tell others that it is not possible to be totally faithful to God, and that it is not a big deal for Christians since we are unconditionally and eternally saved anyway:
1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: HE THAT DOETH RIGHTEOUSNESS is righteous, even as he is righteous.
If Calvinism is right, people who have obeyed God to 100% will end up in hell, and Jesus death on the cross is a complete puzzle. Did something go wrong which necessitated Jesus death on the cross? Exactly what went wrong, and could not God have predestined people to live holy lives without the need for Jesus atonement? I cannot think of a religion/philosophy which maligns the character of God the way Calvinism does. Not even mormonism, JW or Catholicism. Many freewillers do what they can to protect God from all attacks by Calvinists, and we must continue to pray for people like Jesse who defends God’s pure character which is far from darkness and sin – and naturally for Matt Slick!
For Calvinists Calvinism is important. Their doctrines require that they blame God for all sin either directly or indirectly, but they must wrap this message in a lot of sweet words so that they can trick more people into falling for Calvinism.