I got an email today from someone who heard of my upcoming debate with Joshua Whipps (a.k.a. Razor’s Kiss) of Choosing Hats, in which he told me he’s praying for me and gave me some of the best advice I’ve received. I take it seriously, and to heart, and I think I’ll find some way to crystalize this in the form of a notecard I can carry around in my pocket or something, as I think it’s that important. I’ve kept the sender anonymous.
I am pleased to thank and praise God for your upcoming debate on Annihilationism with Joshua Whipps. I will pray for your preparation and debate.
Here’s my two cents on preparing for the debate (nothing new, but definitely worth hearing again):
1. Pray for our brother Joshua Whipps. Passionately.
2. Ask yourself this question: what if I am wrong? And mean it. As Luther put it: (loosely paraphrased) unless we are shown by scripture and plain reason that we are wrong, we cannot go against conscience as it is neither right nor safe. Here, Luther is showing himself open to correction on all points. We must continue to have the humility to concede possible error. If God is glorified by this debate showing that you and I are wrong on this topic. So be it. Let Him be true, and us be liars that His truth be magnified.
3. Do not try to defend your “Reformed-ness” in this debate. It is not essential to honouring God. Nor is it essential to this debate. Stick to your guns, and try to show (especially to the Audience) that Annihilationism is not anti-Biblical. I believe this to be the strongest card that Satan will seek to play. It will do Satan wonders for his cause to convince listeners that you are a Heretic and therefore divide the Body of Christ unnecessarily. Therefore, I believe that the most important outcome of the debate will be to show your devotion to the Bible as authoritative, and your devotion to God’s glory in order to avoid the possibility of dividing the body unnecessarily. This is more important than proving conclusively your position is the best one to hold. Remember that we battle the supernatural, not simply the intellectual.
4. Pray. Pray. Pray. When you think of a point for the debate, pray about it. When you sit down to learn Joshua’s points pray for humility. When you awake on the morning of the debate, do not spend two hours going over your notes, but spend at least two hours in communion with God. Pray for humility. Pray for humility again, and again. Pray for wisdom. Pray everyday for your preparation. Pray everyday for Joshua. Pray everyday for God’s glory to shine through the debate. Praise God for his marvellous answer to prayer. It is only by his gracious answer to prayer that you have the opportunity to debate Joshua: so be thankful.
That’s it. I’m sure you have plenty of theological and exegetical advisors and are quite capable yourself of preparing intellectually for the debate. So I’ll leave that side of it to you and others. I will be praying for your humility, graciousness, thankfulness, and wisdom in the coming months. I will be praying that Christians will not be divided over this issue. I will be praying for Joshua Whipps. I will be praying for you to have the grace and wisdom to see any truth in Joshua’s arguments and any error in your own.
I was very touched and motivated by this email, and I sincerely and greatly appreciate the advice. Thank you so much!