A Special Monday Edition of You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers

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Dr. Brown will be answering your questions on a wide range of subjects today (including his thoughts on the “Mechanical Translation” of the Hebrew Bible), taking your calls, and sharing his insights on the latest breaking news as he broadcasts live from Nashville, Tennessee. Listen live here 2-4 pm EST, and call into the show at  (866) 348 7884  with your questions and comments.

 

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: The more chaos you see in society, the more shaking you see around the world, recognize that the enemy really is at work, but we in Jesus will overcome him on every front!

 

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: We can concentrate on what the devil is doing and all the evil and destruction in the world or we can concentrate on a God who takes what Satan means for evil and turns it around for good!

 

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Other Resources:

Jesus Is Saving Muslims in West Africa (an Interview with Bert Farias)

An Outrageous Use of Scripture in a Gay Activist Editorial and the Not So Hidden Message of the X-Men Movies

Would It Have Been Right for a German Christian to Assassinate Hitler? (And an update on the attempt to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”)

37 Comments
  1. E-Question for Monday’s You’ve got Questions:

    Elihu and Job
    What are we to make of his speech to Job? Was he speaking the widsom of God as he claimed? Some call him a fool, others say he spoke truth. Whats your understanding of this person Elihu and his words to Job?

    Thank you Dr. Brown.

    -Benjamin

  2. It’s Mike from Toronto. Thanks again for answering my question today concerning your debate with Dr. White. My purpose was not to defend Calvinism but to really understand the point you were making with your question regarding rejoicing in the midst of despair knowing that God is sovereign over all things. I appreciated your response especially the reference to Jeremiah 32:35. But how do you reconcile God’s foreknowledge of all things, not to mention his sovereignty, with this statement in Jeremiah that this abomination never “enter into my mind”?

  3. @Mike

    I was reading in Job and this verse comes to mind when talking about this topic:

    Job 36:10-12

    10 He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.

    11 If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.

    12 But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.

    ————–

    Two things to draw from these verses are these:
    1) God opened their ears to hear, and….
    2) They have the ability to choose to obey or to rebel.

    I think having a will is part of what it means to be made in God’s image.

    This doesn’t quite address the question about reconciling sovereignty and God not willing something to happen. But it does show that God in His sovereignty gives man the free-will to obey or not obey.

    It’s a huge question. One that I’m nowhere near close to understanding. We can all just go off of what we have learned from scripture and take a look at other’s research into the Word to see what conclusion they have come to based on scripture.

    Your brother in Christ,
    -Benjamin

  4. Benjamin,

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t want to debate the subject (White and Brown do a good job at that) but I do want to fully understand both sides. And though I can agree with you that God gives the ability to choose still the question of God’s knowledge of the future can’t just be ignored. Ironically, perhaps this is the key to bringing the two views together. If Calvinism says God’s foreknowledge is a mystery and Arminianism can’t explain it then both agree it’s a mystery!

    Incidentally, I’m also interested in your question about Elihu. I hope Dr. Brown addresses it (especially since he is working on a Job commentary). Elihu is the mystery character who comes out of nowhere and then disappears. Also, somewhat related, are you aware that the Jerusalem Bible rearranges some of the verses in Job to compensate for the seemingly missing response from Zophar giving the unusual statements of Job to him in that section?

    – Mike

  5. Mike,

    Gotcha. And you’re right. I havent not heard the debate yet and you are right that i’m sure they both did an excellent job to present each side. Can’t wait to hear the debate.

    I misunderstood your question, my apologies.

    How I understand God’s foreknowledge and His statement that it never “entered into my mind” was not him saying that He had no knowledge of this act, but that it was an idiom or expression to say that God never instructed it, commanded it or wanted it.

    The Jeremiah Passage
    “which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”

    “That they should do this” to me would mean by His instruction, or will. He knew it would happen but it never entered into His mind to will it to happen.

    It’s God’s way of telling us this act was distant from Him, in my understanding.

    Lets hope Dr. Brown comments briefly.

    Also I was not aware of the Jerusalem Bible translation adjustment. I may have to look into it. I primarily read the KJV, ESV, and ASV.

    Thanks Mike,
    Your brother,

    -Benjamin

  6. I was just searching youtube to see if the debate was available and I came across an earlier debate between Dr. Brown and James White. I’m not sure when it took place, it may have been when Dr. Brown and James White shared each others radio programs to discuss the issues a while back but something very interesting was said by James White which always brings up grave concern.

    Quote: James White “I just simply recognize that the scriptures are very very plain in making the assertion that anything that takes place has a purpose. God has not created purposeless evil.”

    If that statement is true by James White, then all of us are lost today. That statement claims God is the author of evil, which puts sin in God, which destroys the atonement of Yeshua. If there is sin in God then we have no hope.

    I hope their recent debate makes its appearance soon. I’m really, really looking forward to it.

  7. I have this theory I want to put here. There is one tradition in the Talmud that talks about if we are worthy he’ll come on the clouds of heaven and if we are unworthy he’ll come riding on a donkey. I know Rabbincal Jews would disagree with my theory but again, this comment is only a theory.

    Also, I have taken into consideration some Jews say it is the Jewish People who will the Messiah according to the tradition and not mankind in general.

    I think that tradition may apply to Jesus in a sense. Why? The New Testament has the Jews doing things which Jesus repudiated such as living in sin, Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey due to the Jews’s sin.

    In his second coming, Jesus will have Messianic Jews who are worthy to receive him as their Messiah because of his blood covering them by repentance, baptism and faith.

    It’s a possible way of looking at the tradition in my view, although I am a Gentile so some Jews will say “You don’t know anything about Judaism”. I am not sure what you think of this Mr Brown, but it’s a point worth contemplating.

  8. I am always interested to hear thoughts on playing MMO’s such as Final Fantasy and other online games. A few friends and I also play MMO’s (Multi-Massive-Online games) at times and enjoy our time playing them.

    We use it as an evangilistic tool as well. We currently play Guild Wars 2 and we named the guild we created “Malakh Adonai” with the abreviated tag “YHVH”. We get questions and comments about the name which is a great way to begin a discussion about Jesus with other gamers.

    So even while spending time with loved friends playing an MMO, we are proclaiming Yeshua. These same friends do Bible studies together (online from different states speaking to each via microphones). There may be arguements out there about how what we do is wrong. I’m open to hear them out. I don’t see anything wrong with it if done approprietly.

    Just my thougts and experience.

  9. Benjamin,

    Thanks again for your comments. I have a couple of things to say in reply but I what to point something out at the top. Dr. Brown is big on letting the “plain meaning” of the text be the primary understanding. Now, to say that it never “entered into my mind” is an idiom or an expression that doesn’t mean what it appears to mean is going beyond the “plain meaning.” This is important because there are many “free will” and “free choice” verses that are defended strictly on their “plain meaning!”

    That said, I must agree with you that this is an “expression.” But if this is the case than I must go back to my original “on air” question and ask for a clear answer. The assumption is that the Calvinist mother, who’s baby has been raped and murdered, has nothing really to rejoice about because it was God’s decree. But somehow the Arminian mother is comforted in the knowledge that though God did not decree it, He knew it was going to happen and He allowed it to happen even though He had the power to stop it. I don’t understand this.

    Regarding Dr. Whites quote. (Referring to my “plain meaning” above, notice he says the scriptures are very very “plain.”) Before you can say that this statement makes God the author of evil you will need to deal with a number of scripture references. Specifically, Isaiah 45:7 and Amos 3:6 (and be careful of the idiom argument — as I’ve mentioned — it bites back!). And all the verses that talk about God decreeing or allowing (however you want to say it) bad things that happen for a good purpose. E.g. Joseph sold into slavery, God uses the Syrian army to punish Israel, God sends the Angel of Death to the Egyptians, God allows Satan to persecute Job, Paul’s shipwreck incident, etc. Not to mention the numerous verses that say that God is in control of everything right down to the smallest detail.

    – Mike

  10. Mike, awesome post.

    I didn’t mean to convey that “entered into my mind” doesn’t mean what it appears to mean. I think the plain meaning is clear, that it never entered His mind to cause Judah that they should sin in such a way. So I think the plain meaning is the best meaning.

    I’m basing this next portion off the English, but the ‘should’ and ’cause’ following the statement that it never entered into His mind is telling of the meaning in my understanding. Or it helps inform my take on that passage. Here’s what I mean; It never entered His mind to ’cause’ Judah to sin, or that they ‘should’ do this. Both of those words when I read the passage imply Gods active participation, which God is saying No to, that He did not participate in it to cause it to happen.

    Also I got thrown for a loop when I at first thought you were questioning my take that it was an expression, but then in paragraph two you agreed with me. I had to re-read the first paragraph because it threw me off =)

    For the ‘on air’ portion of the comment are you asking why is the arminian mother comforted, or more the reconciliation between God not decreeing it, knowing it would happen, but not stopping it?

    Create Evil: An older way to say disaster or calamity was to say evil. Such as below;

    Isaiah 45:7
    (ESV)
    I form light and create darkness,
    I make well-being and create calamity,
    I am the Lord, who does all these things.

    Amos 3:6
    (ESV)
    Is a trumpet blown in a city,
    and the people are not afraid?
    Does disaster come to a city,
    unless the Lord has done it?

    Dr. Brown’s expertise in Hebrew would be helpful here, since maybe the above translations are wrong. But it seems the context is disaster rather than sin. But sin was the context when Dr. White said “God has not created purposeless evil” since they were speaking about murder, etc.

    I will think through the rest you gave me to ponder and consider and write soon.

    Thanks Mike,
    Your brother,

    -Benjamin

  11. I think there’s a sense in which God not only has created evil because whatever “being” or source of the evil, it exists because God created it, the “being” that brought it to pass, but he also brought about the “evil”, in the sense that he saw to it that some undesireable (“evil”)consequence would happen for the sake of judgment.

    Not only did God allow Satan to touch Job and all that he had, but he was the one to begin the converstation with him.

  12. Benjamin,

    Thanks, I look forward to your further comments.

    Okay, I can understand and accept the “cause” interpretation. But you have to admit it is a nuanced ‪distinction‬ and not easily discernible. Consider the entire passage from Jeremiah 32:26-35. Because of Israel’s disobedience Jeremiah says that God has (23) “made all this disaster come upon them.” And God says, (28) “…I am giving this city into the hands of the Chaldeans…” Now, when God says “I am,” one could argue that this just means that God is “allowing” Nebuchadnezzar to win. Fine. But later on in the chapter God says (37) “…I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them…” and “I will bring them back…” And then there is an entire litany of “I will’s.” Shall we interpret these as God is simply allowing Israel to return and hoping that the New Covenant will be obeyed this time?

    I can also accept the “disaster or calamity” for “evil” interpretation of those verses. But here is the dilemma: (and keeping in mind the above paragraph) how do we explain all the disasters that the Bible says that God sent for disobedience? It is really hard to just say that all the bad stuff is from Satan and is allowed due to God giving Satan freewill. (Ray made the point that “not only did God allow Satan to touch Job and all that he had, but he was the one to begin the conversation with him.”)

    And if we are going to get really “nuanced” with things than saying that God has a purpose for evil is not the same as saying He created it.

    Hey, if all this sounds too aggressive I want to apologize. I am just really struggling to understand.

    – Mike (also your bro in Christ)

  13. Evil from our vantage point is not necessarily evil in the ultimate sense or in YHWH’s vantage point. Sometimes, if not always from an eternal perspective, judgment is good for us though we do not like it. Evil in the sense of something bad happening or being done by someone to someone else is not the same as Evil in the ultimate sense, although the former usually is perpetrated by the latter in some way.

    YHWH uses evil to bring a choice to us. Will we do good or evil? Will we resist that which perpetrates evil on others? Resistance to evil is what makes us spiritually strong. Without it we would not grow up.

    YHWH is where the ultimate buck stops because He made everything at least knowing that evil would show its face. If we suffer with Messiah we will also be glorified with Him. If there is no suffering..? Evil gives us a chance at greatness.

    Judgment from YHWH is against evil and evil doers. It is relief and justice to the innocent. The evil ones see judgment as evil. The righteous ones see judgment as justice. That the righteous must suffer because of evil is sad, but the Righteous One suffered because of our evil.

    Our version of good is usually people being nice to one another. But open rebuke is better than secret love. Sometimes being nice is not love. And love is good, so sometimes being nice is evil. Sometimes we need to go to war and kill people so that good may prevail.

    And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Ro 8:28)

    Evil works for our good if we are in the right place spiritually. So is evil really bad in the final analysis? Is it bad for us to participate in evil? Yes! Mostly for us because we will reap what we so and those that mourn will be comforted.

    Justice will one day be served on a heaping patter. That justice will be delicious to the righteous and quite bitter to the unrighteous. If there was evil without final perfect justice, our creator would be a monster. Not seeing justice being done is what makes us question the goodness of the Creator. If real ultimate justice will come in the end then He is good.

    Not realizing that we deserve divine judgment is a sign of great evil in our hearts. YHWH took all the judgment that we all deserved. Not only does the final buck stop at the one that created us, He also was willing to pay from the foundation of the world. He does not stand aloof from the suffering of His creation. All evil that ever was or will be is felt by Him.

    A commander that calls his troop to follow him into battle need not be ashamed of asking them to die in a worthy cause. The insulated politicians back in the safety of their offices might should feel a twinge of conscience. YHWH is not a politician in the sky.

    We wonder how evil can exist or why it is tolerated by a good and loving Creator only because we can only see the now. If we could see a bit of what He sees we might consider it a present light affliction in comparison to the exceeding great reward that awaits us in eternity.

    We ask the big questions about YHWH creating or allowing evil only on those days when we do not realize how much evil we have sown and watered and harvested and dined upon and fed to others. Do us pots really think that we can say to the potter, “Why hast thou made us thus?”. Maybe we do ask that question. Maybe we should rather ask, “Will you please remake me into a vessel fitted for glory?”. And if we do ask the latter, maybe we should not be surprised if we get smashed to pieces and ground into powder in the process. And in that process we might just think that we are being subjected to evil.

    Shalom

  14. Amen Bo.

    Very excellent points Mike. “not easily discernible” whereas I would say that I came to that conclusion through discernment of the words.

    ‘Disobedience and Disaster’ Disaster is God’s judgement. It’s not sin, its justice. Because Israel did something, disobeyed, God judges them and brings calamity/disaster upon them based on his covenant with them and their breaking of it. God is also an active God so when God says ‘I am’ I take that literally to mean that God is causing/participating in an event to bring it about. So no, I don’t think God just let the city be taken by Nebuchadnezzar, he gave it. Also God was in control of bringing them back to the Land.

    I am a disspensationalist so I love literalism. So when God brings a disaster, I believe God literally brought it down. I don’t attribute such things to Satan unless attributed to him specifically in scripture.

    “not only did God allow Satan to touch Job and all that he had, but he was the one to begin the conversation with him.” – Now this one was a free will act. God asked him questions. If there was no free-will here on Satans part then there would be no questions, or at best they would be pointless questions. And you can tell that Satan had been watching Job since he knew every detail about him. That God had a protective hedge about him that Satan could not violate, which Satan accuses God of. So Satan had wanted to test Job even before this conversation with God, but he was unable to overcome Gods hedge. So, he got permission.

    Off to bed I must go. Still thinking about your prior post! And no need to worry about aggression as long as its done in respect between family (which it is =)

    Good night,

    -Benjamin

  15. Celibacy:

    Thank you Dr Brown for raising this issue while remaining open and friendly with people such as Frank who offer a level-headed defense of their views.

    With regard to the celibacy imposed on priests it is no secret that a key motivation has been the question of real estate and inheritance: a priest with no family leaves all earthly possessions to the church

    See the archbishop of Tanzania’s comments paragraph 10
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_cclergy_doc_01011993_prob_en.html

    this has led to a constant expansion of the churches real estate holdings – in Italy an estimated 20% of all real estate is ultimately owned by the vatican

    http://www.ilgiornale.it/news/case-vaticano-tesoro-115mila-propriet.html

    Whatever other motivations there might be, it is wrong to overlooked the economic interest that drives the churches endorsment of celibacy as a requirement for priests.

    With regard to the sex scandals which are a related phenomenon if not a direct consequence I personally know three people who received inappropriate advances from priests, one was abused as a child two more were approached while studying to become priests themselves, if this were representative, and anecdotal

  16. …anecdotal evidence suggests that it is, that would mean that a 5% rate of sex abuse cases masks an even higher percentage of priests engaging in immoral lifestyles. I believe it’s a question worth discussing especially as we findourselves more and more called to unite with the Vaticani the fight for life (vs.abortion and euthanasia) and for marriage – just causes for which we must stand together but not without ignoring the call to righteousness and truth.

  17. Benjamin,

    I can second your Amen for Bo. I can also pretty much agree with all you have said, although I think there are some big implications that you are not seeing. For instance, Ray’s point was that it was God who “started” the conversation and “allowed” Satan to plague Job. My point was that Satan’s free will does not trump God’s sovereignty and foreknowledge. But the problem for me here is all this is too high level and it leaves me hanging. I just want a simple direct answer to my original question. And as much as I love Dr. Brown — I listen to his program all the time and I have many of his books — he just didn’t really give me a satisfactory answer.

    I want to bring this back down it earth. Let me restate the question: Can a mother rejoice in God at the rape and murder of her child? When Dr. Brown asked this of Dr. White there was an assumption behind the question that the Arminian view has a better answer to give to the grieving mother than the Calvinist can provide.

    So let me try to illustrate this with a conversation between a consoling pastor and the grieving mother. Now this is going to be somewhat of a parody. No pastor of either persuasion is going to say this to a mother who has lost her child. And let’s face it there really isn’t anything one can say in such a situation. Sympathy and support and grieving with the mother would be the only appropriate action. But this is an illustration, so…

    Mother: “Why did God let this happen?”

    Calvinist Pastor: “We can’t second guess God. God is omniscient, only He understands how all the pain and suffering and evil throughout history, today and in the future will be used for the ultimate good and restoration of God’s elect.”

    Mother: “Why did God let this happen?”

    Arminian Pastor: “God is also grieved by what has happened.”

    Mother: “But if He is grieved and He didn’t want it to happen than why did He let it happen?”

    Arminian Pastor: “We can’t second guess God. God is omniscient, only He understands how all the pain and suffering and evil throughout history, today and in the future will be used for the ultimate good and restoration of God’s people.”

    I hope my point here is clear! Now, I’m not saying that there are no differences. The differences are theological and philosophical. One view sees a purpose to evil which is why, in spire of God’s foreknowledge, or perhaps because of it, God allowed the fall of both man and angels, and endured, and still endures, for years and centuries the abominable sin of men. While the other view seems to be either purely reactionary, which is fine if you’re Gregory Boyd or Rabbi Kirschner, or somewhat arbitrary in that sometimes God lets free will reign and other times He usurps free will.

    Your comments, as always, are greatly appreciated.

    – Mike

  18. Mike, I know the Line of Fire likes to spread callers out but maybe you can get on the line today and restate your question on Air tailored to drive at the focus point you would like to have answered. It may have been missed last time on Air.

  19. Benjamin,

    I don’t know, as you say, they don’t like to let the same person on too close together. And you have to try and be concise and short with your question. Which I tried to be the first time. I’m not really sure how I would phrase it to get my point across. I may just have to accept that there is no good answer at this time.

    I have appreciated your attention and I hope that I have made some sense. It has been good to chat with you.

    God bless.

    – Mike

  20. Mike,

    Another thing I was thinking about was that from my experience listening to various contemporary Calvinist pastors/theologians, most of modern Calvinism rejects the age of accountability and would say that if a child dies it goes to Hell because it was dead in sin and that this glorifies God. (Not all Calvinists believe this and some hold to the age of accountability). Some might change that a bit and pull the elect/reprobate aspect into it concerning the child.

    I have not studied Arminianism too much (I don’t consider myself either Arminian and specially not Calvinist). But it seems more Arminians would believe in the age of accountability. That if a child dies it goes straight to Heaven because it never reached the mental maturity level required to reject/accept God/Jesus.

    I believe in the age of accountability which brings me great comfort when elementary school shootings happen and other disasters involving children. It’s a great comfort knowing they ran straight to the Lord. But this is something that most consistent Calvinists have a hard time accepting because they have to deal with double election.

    Though I believe that Calvin himself held to infant baptism which wrought salvation in the children of the elect.

    Dave Hunt said something at a seminar once that hit me so powerfully. He was speaking about the end times and how the world would become so united giving way to one world government, etc. And asked what event could so change the world that everyone came together under anti-Christ. His answer was the Rapture, and one particular aspect of the rapture, the children of all nations being called up to the Lord. Children of Hindu’s, Muslims, all religions and nations.

    And all the above depends on if you believe the age of accountability is scriptural, which I do and see scripture clearly teaching this.

    So this to me is a reason that the Arminian mother could rejoice more than the Calvinist mother. But there are so many flavors of both Calvinism and Arminianism that we can’t make clear cut lines.

  21. Benjamin, I take Elihu to have been speaking by the spirit of God.

    Have you ever noticed how often men will turn to accusation and condemnation without looking at the evidence at hand, and ministering to what is right in front of them that needs ministering to?

    It seems to me Job’s three friends wanted to correct him when they had nothing to go on, but later on when there was much to notice, they seemed not to notice, or minister to it, yet they still were against him.

    It seemed to turn into a garbage throwing contest.

    Maybe they were competing for “whose in charge”, vying for position, the glory of men, etc.

    When men put their own (selfish) interests above God, they don’t usually get along very well. When men seek the glory of God together, and not want any self-glorying, they should be able to get along, and the wisdom of God should come to them.

    By the time Elihu spoke up, I think the four men had wounded each other so much….This may have been one of the reasons for some of the blindness I think I saw in them.

  22. The book of Job is like a bag with a lot of things inside, some things very good and some things not so good. There’s so much to learn from it.

    Satan was hard at work to destroy. Men were tested. The Lord had his way, and Job was spared.
    In overcoming the enemy, he was blessed because of the Lord.

  23. Benjamin,

    Sorry, man, but I have to say that is a poor response. You’re asking me to accept the relevance of the “mother rejoicing at the death of her child” question on the basis that some unknown percentage of Calvinists believe that children who die in infancy go to hell — even though you admit that not all Calvinists ascribe to this view. And, in my experience, I would say that most do not and the rest are unsure and just leave the question in God’s hands. Now, if you were referring to hyper-Calvinists just remember that for every hyper-Calvinist there is a hyper-Arminian. Look, I don’t want to engage in the Calvinist-Arminian debate, so let me just say that I think you need to do more study before you make any hard and fast decisions.

    As for the “age of accountability,” I believe in a “condition” of accountability and this is neither exclusive to Arminians or Calvinists.

    I have little doubt that Dave Hunt is a Christian but I’m afraid he is not very discerning and would approach his teaching with caution.

    It has been good talking with you. I offer you the last word. God bless.

    – Mike

  24. Morning Mike,

    You had me debating with myself for quite a while this morning over your last comments in your post about offering me the last word. I had a hard time determining if I should accept or leave it there. And if I accept would I be a jerk? haha. But I thought it best to get back to you and ask questions.

    First I just wanted to point out our similarity expressed early on in our last two posts;

    M “in my experience…”
    B “from my experience…”

    Both of us came to that conclusion based on our experiences of those we have been in contact with and listened under, etc. I agree that we should not form theology based on numbers of people who hold to a particular view. Amen. I was just putting a thought out there that came to me. I also tried hard (as you noted) to show that not all Calvinists reject the age/condition of accountability many times threaded through my comment, specially at the end (John Piper comes to mind). So if it seemed like I was blasting, I apologize.

    A couple years ago I went through Systematic Theology classes and the book used and instructors taught everything from a Calvinistic view. And after learning about the idea of Concurrence:

    “An aspect of Gods providence whereby he cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do.”

    And after asking many questions about this and what it meant in relation to our relationship to God, we ended up talking about the age of accountability and they answered that based on the 5 points they could not hold to the condition/age of accountability since in their understanding it butted against that line of thinking. This I just say to give background to my experience with Calvinism in that class and listening to other great men such as John MacArthur, etc. who don’t hold to the age/condition. So not an arguement, just background.

    On to the questions! 🙂

    1. Conditional accountability. This term is new to me and I assume you mean the same thing that I do when I say age, but I wanted to ask for clarity since it may be different? What I mean is that at a certain time in an individuals life they become mature enough to understand what sin is and means in relation to our God and that we need a savior, and are capable of understanding why based on the grace of God.

    2. Where do you stand on this question about the child who dies? I just realized that I havent heard what you think of this topic. I’d love to hear.

    3. (*totally unrelated and optional*) What is one of the more important things in your view that Dave Hunt has lacked discernment on? I do not agree with everything he says, though I think he is very solid in his dividing of the Word on most things I have read of his. This I ask since you have warned me to be careful of his discerment. Thanks Mike.

    I realise this isn’t very last wordy since I am asking questions =) so please forgive me. If you’d prefer to take this off the forums here I can give out an e-mail address, or we can just leave it and move on to the next topic! 🙂

    Grace and peace,
    -Benjamin

  25. Benjamin,

    Y’got me. I was going to let you have the last word — I just didn’t have anything else to say regarding my original question — but seeing as you asked me all these questions I’m happy to respond. (Hey, if I give you the last word, you wouldn’t be a jerk to take it. Somebody has to have it, right?)

    Obviously we form our views from our personal experiences but we need to guard against our presuppositions, prejudices, traditions, etc. I try very hard, myself, to always be open to both sides of an argument before I make a decision. But this is not an easy thing to do. For instance, as a Christian it is easy to listen to another Christian explain why another religion is in error, but how many go out of their way to listen to the other side from the other side? This is why I like listening to debates. And this is way I listen to both Dr. Brown’s and Dr. White’s podcasts. (I would also recommend the Unbelievable program http://www.premierradio.org.uk/shows/saturday/unbelievable.aspx).

    As for age of accountability, I used to just leave this question to God’s sovereignty and chalk it up to mystery. But it was listening to John MacArthur that changed my mind toward conditional accountability.
    http://www.gtycanada.org/resources/articles/A264
    http://jamesmirror.com/2012/04/09/children-kids-babies-die-heaven-saved-macarthur/

    Here is the link to the sermons that changed my mind.
    http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermon-Series/269

    This link is not only giving MacArthur view but it is featured on the very Calvinistic Wretched Radio.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCe8nJWQjvI

    One really has to do their homework these day because there is so much misinformation out on the web. Here’s a link from someone who thinks he knows what Calvinists believe on the age of accountability. If this was the only thing you read than of course you’re views on the subject are going to be unbalanced.
    http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1202

    Compare the way Dr. Brown talks about Calvinism from an informed and intelligent viewpoint while still disagreeing, and the way Dave Hunt talks about it. Just like the link above nothing annoys me more than someone who thinks they know everything about a subject when they really know very little — and refuse to be corrected!

    Well, there you go. I’m not sure if I have anything else to say but I’m happy to continue if something comes up from you. But I’m also happy to, once again, give you the last word!

    – Mike

  26. Mike,

    Thank you for the links. I am looking forward to checking out the Unbelievable program you linked. I just checked out the MacArthur sermon on conditional accountability, I always enjoy listening to MacArthur and the clarity he expresses in his sermons. His conditional accountability has the exact same meaning as my age of accountability. I believed that was the case and the sermon you linked affirmed it. Amen.
    He did mention a couple of things that got my attention. Both of these statements he himself does not hold too and rejects, as you and I also reject. Here are the quotes:

    In reference to some calvinists, they say about the children, “They are all damned to Hell…..” MacArthur then explains why they say this, “This is an implication drawn out of the doctrine of Total Depravity”. MacArthur’s argument is that this is a false understanding of Total Depravity which you and I both agree with.

    Next quote:

    “… He and his wife had come to grips with the fact that their infant child was not among the Elect….. I recall that he said that he was absolutely certain that if God elected that infant to salvation that He would have kept him alive long enough to bring him to faith…”

    MacArthur countered that one too by saying that this father and his wife would be surprised when they get to heaven (that they would see their child there forever). So I found myself saying amen many times throughout this sermon.

    I bring these two quotes up solely because most of my exposure to Calvinist teaching has been along those lines of ‘misunderstood’ doctrines of Calvinism. Pastors and teachers not being able to affirm the age of accountability because of TULIP and not seeing how it allows for infant salvation. So I just thought it interesting to listen to MacArthur speak about Calvinists who don’t hold to the Condition of Accountability.

    Thank you for sharing that message. He did a great job of explaining his reasons for defending the Condition of Accountability.

    In comparing Mike Brown to Dave Hunt, I would say that they both are concerned with the same issues. They address the same disagreements. Dave just has a passion about him that can be rather blunt and straight forward. He can be a bit more rough in his delivery (maybe a bit like the old grandpa telling the neighbor kids to get off the lawn), which also shows his heart-felt concern over what he sees as error. Both Dave and Mike are very thorough in their research when discussing a major topic like this. You may disagree, but one of Dave’s strengths is that he relies heavily on quoting those he disagrees with, allowing them to speak for themselves, then Dave addresses the problems with what was quoted. I appreciate that. Most of the people I know who don’t enjoy Hunt do so not because they disagree with what he is saying, but because they just don’t agree with how he delivers it, thinking he could be less aggressive. Maybe that’s good advice, but I appreciate Dave and his ministry blowing the trumpet and reminding us to be good Bereans.

    I stand with you in hearing both sides of the story, from both sides, before deciding an issue. For some time I considered myself a Calvinist (telling people I was), but to be fair, I didn’t really know what Calvinism was about. But through Bible study and going through Systematic Theology classes which contradicted what I was understanding in scripture (every side claims this), I knew that I could not hold to Calvinism. I spent several years listening to everything I could on the debate, read books, my father gave me his copy of Calvin’s Institutes. Many nights were spent in thought, losing sleep over the issues. This to say that it was not a “hard and fast decision” concerning either the Age of Accountability or Calvinism, but a journey many years in length. This journey has not ended and will not end in this life-time.

    Oh I forgot, I was going to mention James White and debates. I love James White; I listen in to his show here and there. And truly enjoy his debates, as well as Mike and Dave’s debates. You are right; it’s nice to hear the words directly from the opposite side. Mr. White does an amazing job at defending the faith and I truly appreciate him even with our disagreements.

    I think the above qualifies as being last wordy. Maybe?

    I have appreciated our exchanges as all exchanges get us to think about and hone our knowledge regarding each particular topic.

    Thanks Mike,

    Your brother,
    -Benjamin

  27. Thanks Mike,

    There are a lot of misconceptions about the multiple sides. Tim seemed to assume that if your not a calvinist then you don’t believe in election or pre-destination, which is a misconception. Though I could have a misconception about what he believes about non-calvinists since this clip was only 7 minutes.

    After explaining two scenarios where God either chooses 25% of humanity to be saved, or the other scenario where God knows who will trust in Jesus and He saves those, he says that both then come to the same conclusion, that God before the foundation of the world consigned some to be saved, to which I would say Amen, that’s the doctrine of pre-destination. But… He said it in a way to prove calvinism. Or he at least viewed it through calvinistic glasses. He implied that foreknowledge means causation. Which I believe is a misconception. As an example (all examples are somewhat faulty since we are dealing with an infinite God); I know that tomorrow my soul will continue to exist, but my knowing that does not cause it.

    In talking about Unconditional Election, grace is always emphasised to which we say amen! but the saying always stops there without finishing the phrase;

    Ephesians 2:8-9
    (KJV)

    8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

    9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    Grace is always contrasted to works. Faith is always contrasted to works. We receive this grace through faith, not through works.

    Each side seems to view faith differently. One seeing it as a work, the other seeing it as contrasted to work in scripture. So each side understands the word differently.

    One of the professors of the Systematic Theology classes I went through tried to back me into a corner to get me to say that “I saved myself”. It back fired on him and he was very surprised with the answer given, “That through the foolishness of preaching and by hearing the Word, God showed me that I was utterly incapable of saving myself. That I had to utterly rely on a savior to atone for me since I was unable to atone for myself…”. He said he wasn’t expecting that answer, and after a moment of thought he said he really liked it.

    But wow, it’s really hard to talk about these things without bringing up points of arguement, but I guess it’s too late. oops.

    So I’ll end it here.

    Thanks for sharing that clip Mike.

    -Benjamin

  28. Benjamin,

    I think we’re coming to the end of all this soon. Thanks for your comments. I appreciate what you have to say. As I have said previously, I really want to understand both sides of the argument.

    Now, with all do respect, I really think you either don’t understand the issue or you are side-stepping it. What’s interesting is you are doing exactly what Dr. Brown did with my original on-air question.

    I just don’t understand why the Arminian can’t say “I don’t know, it’s a mystery.” I guess that would be seen as giving into the Calvinist argument or in some way admitting that they have a point. (Interestingly, trying to wrestle honestly with this predestination issue, many Arminians have moved to a hyper-Arminian view).

    And just to be fair, and perhaps you have never heard this, but Calvinists (the responsible ones — I recommend D.A. Carson’s “Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility”) admit that their view of predestination (theological compatibilism) is a divine paradox — a mystery!

    I’m glad you brought up the faith-works issue. This is a good example where Calvinists use a really bad argument against Arminians. Faith is not a work! Calvinists who use this argument are grasping at straws. And they don’t even really know what they are saying because, as you pointed out, it makes no sense! This is exactly my issue with the “mother rejoicing at the death of her child” argument. As I have shown in my previous posts this agreement doesn’t work for either side. Arminians need to understand this and stop using it!

    I really do think you are assuming too much to say that Tim thinks that non-Calvinists don’t believe in election and predestination. Also, and again with all do respect, I think you need to take off your Arminian glasses and hear what is being said objectively. First, he didn’t say foreknowledge implies causation. That is what you assume based on your rejection of Calvinism. Not that it is an illegitimate assumption. But that’s was not what was said. And once again, this legitimate assumption is the foundation of hyper-Arminianism.

    Second, your definition of foreknowledge is one of the standard Arminian explanations. But it is simply incorrect. What you are describing as foreknowledge is in fact an educated guess based on known information or conjecture. (That is unless you what to make a distinction between human foreknowledge and divine foreknowledge.)

    I remember a pastor explaining foreknowledge by asking the congregation to stand up. They all stood up. He then told them to sit down and he said that he foreknew before he entered the service that everyone would stand up. This is not an example of divine foreknowledge, this is an educated conjecture based on previous knowledge that the congregation would obey a minor command from her pastor (incidentally, when he asked everyone to stand, I didn’t).

    When you say that you know that tomorrow your soul will continue to exist you are saying it because you believe the bible teaches that you have an immortal soul created by God. But I assume that if you said “I know that tomorrow I will be alive” you would have to add “God willing.”

    There is no good example of divine foreknowledge. When God says he knows something He is not basing His knowledge on some previous empirical evidence. What He knows will happen. If this is not the case then we have much too fear because then the jury is still out on the Book of Revelation! (If Satan thinks he can win against God does that make him an Arminian? 😉 (And, yes, all the scripture verses that say God didn’t know something or that He changed His mind or He says you choose, it is up to you, I’ll have nothing to do with it, are a problem.)

    Perhaps you’re not a sci-fi fan, but I am, and some of my favourite sci-fi stories are about time travel. If you understand the many time travel paradoxes and Einstein’s theories on time it may help in understanding the paradox of predestination and foreknowledge.

    The main issue to deal with in Keller’s explanation is at the end. What is the big deal about dealing with it? Why ignore it? I need to hear an clear Arminian response. What is the difference between why you were saved and your neighbour was not? Why did God choose Israel from among all the other nations?

    – Mike

  29. Ok. I will try to keep this on the briefer side. (wow that didn’t happen)
     
    I do not see how I side-stepped the issue, but then again we have touched a bunch of small issues, which one are we talking about?  Pre-destination or the Mother?  I apologize.
     
    “”I just don’t understand why the Arminian can’t say “I don’t know, it’s a mystery.”” I know you are classifying me as an Arminian even though I do not.  I do not hold to Arminian confessions of faith, etc.  But I know what you mean.  I agree that there are mysteries. Paul talks about many of them, and he explains them. So if someone claims something is a mystery, that doesn’t mean that it is. Indeed some mysteries are not understood fully such as the concept of the trinity. But many mysteries are accessible. Proverbs 25:2 tells us ‘It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.’ Where does He conceal a thing? His Word. Which is the same place we search out a matter. It’s not all encompassing, I’m speaking to the choir here, so I don’t think it has to be a mystery.

    Also God calls us to think things through when he says “Come now let us reason together”.

    “”but Calvinists … admit that their view of predestination … is a divine paradox — a mystery!”” I know this first hand. Almost all of the questions I asked my professors during class which I had answers too, but I wanted answers from their view, were answered with “It’s a mystery”. It was frustrating. So I do know first-hand what you are saying.

    “”This is a good example where Calvinists use a really bad argument against Arminians. Faith is not a work! Calvinists who use this argument are grasping at straws. And they don’t even really know what they are saying because, as you pointed out, it makes no sense!  “” Forgive me if I sound blunt, but Tim used that argument. On the youtube clip, if you listen in around the 4:50 mark to about the 6:17 mark or so you will hear him use it.

    Before I exeyoutube this clip, I think from our last two post that we can agree that we both think that calvinists and arminians/non-calvinists are wearing some pretty spiffy glasses. Who knows if we can set these glasses down, but here’s my attempt.

    Tim “The Bible tells me that I am saved by grace, not by anything better or good in me.” not saying he did it intentionally but he did not include “through faith”. You may say ‘Oh come on!” but hear me out.

    “Well then here’s the thing…. That means… (he transitions into a story he heard from a teacher to express his “thing” to explain his view of grace) Are you really saying, somewhere, someplace, the real reason you are a Christian and shes not is because of something, your a little smarter, a little better, a little more open…A little…… are you really saying that basically you’re the author of your salvation?…””

    Thus equating faith to works. That somehow underlying faith, is some work somewhere. But as you mentioned and I quoted above, faith is not a work, so works do not underline faith. I believe this is why it tends to be left out when debating these issues because if the Bible says we are saved through faith, or that we have to believe to be saved, it creates a problem for the understanding that you have to be regenerated before you can believe. Which ties into another thing he discusses, free will.

    Around 3:45 he gives a very non-free-will description of free-will:

    Tim “The doctrine of election only says that He opens our eyes to choose him freely.” he then talks about taking the blind folds off a person who’s running towards a pit of fire…. “So you take his blind fold off and he says ‘Oh my word! I dont want to run into (the fire)… is that forcing a persons will? Not at all….”

    I would say his line of thinking is faulty. If God removes the blindfold to allow someone to freely choose him, in order for it to be free they still have to have the freedom to choose to reject him. Which scripture says we can do. We can resist, we can keep going towards that fire pit. But that’s beside the point. If Tim says He opens our eyes so we can freely choose Him, then we have to be able to freely not choose him, otherwise there was nothing ‘freely’ about it.

    “”Arminians need to understand this and stop using it!”” Just to clear the record I didn’t raise this issue. And honestly I have not heard the debate between Mike Brown and James White so I do not know what the thrust of the argument was. I’m looking forward to hearing it.

    “”What you are describing as foreknowledge is in fact an educated guess based on known information or conjecture.“” – Here I think it best to quote myself, “all examples are somewhat faulty since we are dealing with an infinite God” so I threw it out there that this was not a perfect analogy.

    “When you say that you know that tomorrow your soul will continue to exist ….. But I assume that if you said “I know that tomorrow I will be alive” ….” Very good catch. I used my soul in the saying since I do know it will exist tomorrow (today 😉 ) and I did not say I would be alive because I in do not know that. So if I had said alive, I would have been lieing.

    “”(If Satan thinks he can win against God does that make him an Arminian?)”” No because Arminians are saved 😉 Along with their Calvinist and Non-Calvinist brothers and sisters! ~smiling as I typed that~

    I love sci-fi and I also have spent much time thinking about if it would be possible and I often find myself critiquing books/movies when I think they have broken the rules.

    “”What is the big deal about dealing with it? Why ignore it? I need to hear an clear Arminian response. What is the difference between why you were saved and your neighbor was not?”” We’ll have to hope an Arminian chimes in here. No I’m teasing. I know I’m lumped in there. The simple answer would be faith. You don’t want to hear that, but since there is no work underlying faith, where can I go? I didn’t harden my heart while my neighbor if he/she heard the Good News, hardened their heart (not a work). I used the controversial “I” word which people will say “Aha! You’re the author of your salvation!!”

    Hebrews 3
    8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
    9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
    12 Take heed , brethren,lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
    13 But exhort one another daily , while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
    15 While it is said , To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

    From the above you can hear His voice, and you can harden your heart. But we know all sides have a pile of scriptures they believe support whichever side they are on.

    Back to the Author bit. God is the author of my salvation. He died on the Cross to provide the gift of Salvation. He didn’t have to do that but He did. He wrote down what He did for me in the scriptures so that he could use the ‘Foolishness of preaching’ to share his words with me, to offer me the free grace of salvation through faith. And I had wonderful parents who listened to God when through Solomon He instructed parents to raise their children in the way that they should go and they will not depart. And according to God through Joshua, on that day I chose whom I would serve, Jesus Christ.

    Jesus said that he will draw all men to himself. And Paul says that all have been created vessels of wrath so that God may have mercy on all.

    What I have written I know could open up debate about all 5 points of Calvinism, and we don’t want it to go there. So we may have to agree to disagree. But I will answer your last question now. If you think about it, God chose one man, not even a nation. Why choose one man, which would grow into one nation? Because the Messiah had to come. Only one nation can produce the Messiah. If multiple nations could, we would have more than one Messiah. But God’s choosing of Israel was not exclusive for salvation. Strangers were welcomed to come and join themselves to the God of Israel.

    This reply ended up not being very brief. I went overboard. And I may not have properly expressed myself. But I am still learning and may the journey continue!

    Thanks Mike.

  30. Benjamin,

    It has been nice talking to you. These last comments are very interesting. Thanks and God bless!

    – Mike

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