Sunday, February 14, 2010

Arminian Audio: Brown / White Discussion

Christian radio host Dr. Michael Brown recently did a debate with Dr. James White. The debate lasted two days, and took place on Brown's call in show: The Line of Fire. Brown argued from a Non-Calvinist position, and White came from the Calvinist position. The questions included: Does God love everyone? Does God give everyone a genuine opportunity to be saved? What did Christ's atonement accomplish? Are the number of elect fixed? Does God reprobate specific individuals? Does Calvinism result in pride for its adherents?

Here are the link to Brown's blog (where you can also comment), and the direct mp3 links.
January 26, 2010 (mp3) - Brown and White discuss Calvinism - part #1
January 27, 2010 (mp3) - Brown and White discuss Calvinism - part #2
January 28, 2010 (mp3) - Calvinists call into Brown's show and ask him questions.

My thoughts:
Both theologians clearly had respect for each other and accepted each other as believers. Brown went out of his way to point out that Arminians and Calvinists agree on 99%, and that we are all brothers in Christ.

James White is an excellent debater, and I was afraid that he would clobber Brown. However, Brown did quite well. It no doubt helped that he was hosting the show, chose the format, and was the one asking the questions.

White depended very heavily on the "Two wills of God" theory - This is the Calvinist theory that God has a hidden decretive will that overrides and contradicts his revealed will. Thus God says that he doesn't want us to sin, and commands us not to sin, but he has secretly decreed that we will sin, and then damns us for doing what he has decreed (so goes the theory). I think the scriptural support for this theory is non-existent, and I would have like to have seen Brown point this out in stronger terms.

I would also have liked to see Brown better develop the concept of Prevenient Grace. PG largly mitigates many of the complaints that Calvinists often have about Arminian theology (that we believe we save ourselves, etc). Brown did develop this a little more on day two.


The Seeking Disciple said...

I thought the debate was okay. I think Dr. Brown went out of his way to be overtly nice to James White. I think this is good but White has a history of being rude to those he debates. Perhaps Brown knew this and threw White in a loop by being so nice to him.

I have met Dr. Brown and he is a true gentlemen. He is very educated but the key is he is broken. I would not classify Dr. Brown as an Arminian though I know that he holds to very similar views on most theological issues.

Onesimus said...

Sounds like a very colourful debate.

Kevin Jackson said...

Roy, you may be right on White being thrown for a loop. :) He was quite a bit nicer than usual. It was apparent too that White had a lot of respect for Brown's knowledge of the OT.

Onesimus, yes, it was good. It sounds like they may do another debate in the future as well.

An Unfinished Lady said...

I enjoyed the debate. Of course, its nothing we havent heard before, but when Dr. Brown said that its more glory to God if He allows "chess pieces" the free will to choose what they want but the game still works out the way He designed, was such a great analogy.

Kevin Jackson said...

Unfinished, that is a good analogy.

Tony-Allen said...

Thanks for the links, I was looking for this. Currently downloading as I type.

I think you're right that it was good that James White was on another person's "home turf," so to speak, especially after his shameful treatment of Catholic Matthew Bellisario, who runs the Catholic Champion Blog, on an episode of the Dividing Line. Like a news pundit, White cut off Bellisario in mid-argument and began going off on a strawman tangent about Catholic beliefs. It was a bit disappointing to see how a man who performs well under moderated debate reacts to contrary thought when he has control over the microphone.

In any case, I'm looking forward to hearing this debate.

Tony-Allen said...

Well having listened to it, I think they both made some good points, and I agree that Dr. Brown came across as very nice, and both of them were fairly civil.

The third day, with all the callers, was a bit of a hoot. I loved Dr. Brown trying to make heads or tails with the one caller who didn't believe in all 5 Points. Thank goodness the consistent Calvinist was up after that guy. Wowzers.

Kevin Jackson said...

Tony, yeah that one caller was pretty fun. :)