Possible Debate between Michael Brown vs. James White

As of late Michael L. Brown has been doing a few radio shows on Calvinism and Arminianism.  See these for example:

Calvinism vs. Arminianism Part 1

Calvinism vs. Arminianism Part 2

Why I Am Not a Calvinist Part 1

Why I Am Not a Calvinist Part 2

Dr Brown Answers Your Questions (including more on Calvinism, Arminianism, and God’s sovereignty)

I’ve embedded the radio programs but if you click the links to the Line of Fire Radio blog you’ll see in the comments that James White has been brought up on a few occasions by different commenters.  Brown has said that he’d love to get White on his show to discuss the issues and that he had been planning to give him a call.  Apparently White heard about it and he contacted Brown first and if everything goes like White says it should then they’ll each be appearing on each others shows.  It was nice to hear White speak respectfully of Brown and note that he didn’t caricature Calvinism on his shows.  I for one can’t wait to hear these exchanges and if all goes well and they can set up a formal debate I would be very interested in hearing/seeing it.  Here’s today’s show:

The Dividing Line


24 thoughts on “Possible Debate between Michael Brown vs. James White

  1. That should be interesting. From what you’ve heard of Brown does he seem to have a deep theological grasp of the issue? He definitely a seasoned debater and knows his stuff on Semitic languages but I’m wondering how he’d do on a subject like this. He’s a good preacher for sure.

    Bryan L

  2. Bryan: Yeah, he knows his stuff. In some of the radio programs he actually talks about how he was a staunch Calvinist for about 5 years before abandoning the position. But if White is willing to acknowledge that Brown represents Calvinism fairly then that’s a great start for the debate. There won’t be any of the accusations of straw man arguments and the like that usually go along with these kinds of debates.

  3. The anthropologist in this atheist (me) listened to these shows. Here is my impression (though I understand they may not be of interest to most readers of this blog — but just in case):

    I feel that beliefs have both function and truth-value. Thus I listen to the Calvinist vs. Arminian debate and wonder how this belief serves the believer — what is its function (leaving aside the “truth” question). In other words, what does one’s position on this belief allow the believer to do.

    It seems the Calvinist belief allows a believer to not worry about their choices because they are fated. Also for those live in a world where they don’t see people responding to the Gospel and are tempted to despair, then the Calvinist stance is explanatory, even if disappointingly so.

    Arminians instead can hold a more social activism position and belief in personal effort. So it seems that certain personalities would be drawn more easily to one view than another and that depending on that individual’s place in the world, the benefit of either belief could be amplified.

    In Buddhism and Judaism there similar differences in conversion theologies which I think illustrates this dichotomy of beliefs as not being arguments about the action of gods but of the dilemma in the minds and lives of men and women.

    Also, I found it fun to think about Brown’s talks in this way: Brown witnesses to us about “Why I am not a Calvinist” and why he left it in the 80’s. I find it interesting for not only why people change their beliefs but also for why they *say they change their beliefs. Often these are different. Bring to mind all the reason people tell why they broke up with a lover. My experience has been that few people tell their break-up stories accurately. So, when I listen to this talk, I wonder what the real deep reasons for his conversion, not just the theological reasons. I listen as if he were an atheist telling why he left Christianity (or vica versa).

    Funny, how will God treat Christians who are wrong on this Calvinism vs Arminianism issue? Or, continuing, how with God treat those who fall on the wrong side of the theology of the trinity, soteriology, inerrancy, faith-vs-works or even Christology? Most Christians feel beliefs matter, but these talks make me feel that such a position is incredibly shallow.

  4. Concerning the last show (The Dividing Line):

    White puts down Youth Pastors telling a story of how, when he was playing a Jehovah witness with a Youth Pastor to teach children about false religions, he ironically got the Youth pastor himself to confess a heresy.

    Then other heresy spouters he says:

    “If you are that confused about Christianity, then you were clearly never a Christian at all”

    He called the Youth Pastor a non-Christian because of his sloppy theology. My goodness, what a Dogma Snob !

    By White’s standards, Brown, now being an Arminian, is probably also not a Christian anymore since Arminianism is clearly a heresy. When does heresy threaten one’s salvation?

    Doesn’t this Dogma Cop activity strike any readers here of having a problem? I think it is usually men who are Dogma Police — listening to this guy is so similar to listening Radio talk hosts argue about why one sports team is clearly better than another.

    This theological preening was almost funny to listen to if it weren’t also sort of sad.

  5. Sabio: I’ve yet to come across the Calvinist that accepts the charge of fatalism. When speaking with Calvinists who know their stuff they have a doctrine of compatibilism that they believe answers the paradox of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, and while I’m not personally convinced, it does free them up from believing that they have to sing that old Doris Day tune (“Que Sera, Sera”).

  6. Nick: Thanks. Do you have a functional analysis for why Calvinism would be useful to some people if not for the Dorris Day reason? (smile) Or, seriously, do you buy into at least a partially functionalistic analysis of belief? I will post something shortly about a theologian you recommended to me which uses this approach to some extent.

  7. Since Calvinism is Christianity, it has use for all of life. I would recommend you read Living for God’s Glory, ed. Joel Beeke. But, since you are an atheist, you have much more to be concern about.

  8. Predestination – Free Will – Hmmm?

    A topic that has caused many
    problems and divisions for believers.

    Do Calvinists and Armenians
    really believe what they teach?

    Can’t we find scriptures that point to both?

    …Choose you this day who you will serve.
    Joshua 24:15

    No man can come to me,
    except the Father which hath sent me draw him:
    John 6:44

    Doesn’t it seem that those who believe
    it’s “either – or,” and only see one option,
    have some questions to overcome?

    1 – If “Predestination” is the only correct option
    and an adversary believes in,
    defends and teaches “Free Will:”
    Then did God “Predestine” them
    to believe in “Free Will?”

    For how could they believe in “Free Will” unless
    God “Predestined” them to believe in “Free Will?”

    2 – If “Free Will” is the only correct option
    and an adversary believes in,
    defends and teaches “Predestination:”
    Then did God give them a “Free Will”
    to choose “Predestination?”

    For how could they believe in “Predestination”
    unless God gave them a “Free Will”
    to choose “Predestination?”

    So where is the argument?

    When Wesley preached, people realized,
    they could choose to follow Christ.

    When Calvin preached, people realized,
    they were chosen to follow Christ.


  9. Hey A. Amos Love,
    I love your thoughts! That’s some fun stuff to think about. You should check out Robert Hamilton’s essay, “The Order of Faith and Election in John’s Gospel”.
    Hamilton makes an excellent case for such verses as those in John 6 being interpreted in an Arminian context.

  10. Dr. Brown is going to get crushed if he brings this ignorance into the arena with Dr. White.

    Joshua 24:19, you are not able to choose God.

    Fatalistically yours,

  11. Canyon: Is that how you view these types of interactions? As some kind of combat sport or something? I imagine that Brown will present his position intelligently and ably with a spirit of meekness while showing respect to White and giving his views a fair hearing the entire time. If that = getting crushed, then sure, he’ll get crushed.

  12. Canyon

    Don’t know if you realize it?

    You “chose” a verse, Jos 24:19, to show that people
    “can’t choose” to serve or follow God, (I think)
    in a story where Joshua is asking the people to
    “chose you this day who you will serve” Jos 24 :15
    And eventually they do choose to serve the Lord God of Israel.

    Jos 24:21-22
    And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.
    And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves
    that “ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him.”
    And they said, We are witnesses.

    Be blessed in your search for truth… Jesus…

  13. The people didn’t choose God, God chose the people and allowed Yeshua to make a covenant for them. This is a combat, a war, a race, and arminianism is the source of most major heresies in history. Men like Dr. Brown are infiltrators into the camp of Christianity, traitors in our midst, who preach a false god and will lead multitudes to Hell. (Cf. Matt 23)

    If you read your Bible, you’ll see that Brown and his pelagian counterparts have no case and that they rather rejoice in blaspheming the Living Christ and presenting a false jesus whom is quite impotent.

  14. Boy, you got to love guys like Canyon Shearer — he adds color the the landscape of religious thinking.

    For those looking for wider insights, Wiki actually explains the free-will controversy well. I am a fan of the Buddhist concept of Free-Will.

  15. Canyon



    L.anguage O.f V.ictorious E.ternity

    is Love.

    The B.I.B.L.E. is

    B.asic I.nstructions B.efore L.oving E.veryone

    When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment

    wasn’t His response about Love?

    Loving God? Loving your neighbor? Loving yourself?

    Didn’t He also talk about loving your enemies?

    If what you say here is true?

    “Men like Dr. Brown are infiltrators into the camp of Christianity, traitors in our midst, who preach a false god and will lead multitudes to Hell.”

    And if predestination is the whole truth, the only truth?
    Doesn’t that mean that Dr. Brown has “No Choice?”
    That God has “chosen” him to be that traitor?
    And so it is also God who is leading the multitudes to hell
    because he “chose” those people to believe Brown.
    They don’t have a “choice” either; or do they? Hmmm?

    So is Dr. Brown responciple if he has “no choice?”

    Why be angry with him? Why not love him? And pray for him?

    But maybe you don’t have a “choice.”

    Maybe God has predestined you to be angry and unloving?

    Choose you this day who you will serve…

  16. Sabio

    Have been enjoying your comments lately
    on different sites.

    Seems you have some worth while wisdom from a wonderful God.

    It’s a shame to me that you claim to be an atheist.
    A waste of reasonable reasoning releasing reliable results.

    Certainly could use a little more of that in christiandumb…
    Many, many, malicious religious folks and traditions of men
    messing up mindless men multiplying myths and mysteries.

    There are enough of those bitter complainers in that camp.
    Most I’ve met are very unhappy and angry guys.
    Oh, I’m talking about atheists being angry and unhappy.

    Not my wonderful loving and accepting christian brethren. ;-)

    Oh yea, just wondering…

    Why call yourself atheist.

    The “a” there, when added to a word, is negative.
    Often means “not” or “no.”

    Why would you want to be “not” something?

    Or against something that doesn’t exist?

    Just wondering… Or is it wandering…

  17. Sabio

    Went to wiki Buddhists Philosophy site you linked to.

    Only read a few lines,

    Anything that starts with Boo…

    Scares me.

    And Philosophy means “love of wisdom.

    The Bible warns us to beware of quite a few things.

    Commandments of men.
    Doctrines of men.
    Precepts of men.
    Traditions of men.
    Philosophies of men. “Love of wisdom.”

    I’ll stick to loving Jesus.

    Loving wisdom has been the downfall of many men.

  18. Canyon: I respect people’s right to be as misinformed as they wish, but let’s keep the invective against Dr. Brown and Arminians to a minimum. If you have some specific thoughts on what you think about the possible debate between Dr. Brown and Dr. White then please feel free to share them.

    Sabio: Yeah, an unpleasant muddy sort of color.

    A. Amos Love: I appreciate your concern for Sabio and your alliteration, but let’s please stick to the topic of this post. If you’d like to evangelize Sabio then you can do so on his blog or perhaps contact him by email if he’d be willing. Thanks.

  19. Nick

    Sorry. Can’t help myself. Have no choice.

    Hasn’t God predestined me to evangelize?
    Preach the Gospel?

    Did I preach the Gospel to Sabio?

    Didn’t even realize it.
    Must have been predestined.

    Thanks for having mercy.

    Or did I “chose” to appreciate and respect Sabio?

    And wonder about the “choice” that Sabio made?

    Or was it a “choice?” Hmmm?

    So many questions…

  20. A. Amos Love: And I appreciate the questions, but we’ll have to save them for another time. I like to keep the focus on the content of the post. Thanks.

  21. Drew: After seeing that you simply reproduced a post from your blog and called it a comment here I’ve added a link to your original post. I like to keep things as concise as possible, especially for newer commenters that I don’t know. For future reference, please do no reproduce posts from your blog in my comments. A link to your original post with a comment about why the post is relevant will be fine.

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