Some of the Best Advice I’ve Received…

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.

Hey Chris,

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!

10 thoughts on “Some of the Best Advice I’ve Received…

  1. There are not a few of us biblical evangelicals out here listening, and even rooting for you. This is a non-liberal debate we need to have, ESP in light of rob Bell’s book last year, which seriously departs from orthodoxy.

    One question. Wasn’t the great theologian John Stott open to, if not in support of annihilationism? His treatise on Romans is the finest I have read, and if you could find his writings on your subject, they might be helpful.

    Bless you for your courage, pls keep fighting for this in a Christian and reasonable manner, a lot of us are riding your coattails hoping that this may be a revolutionary moment for truth and gods justice.

  2. Thanks, Dgsinclair! My understanding is that Stott publicly remained agnostic, although felt annihilationism should be considered biblically orthodox. I am unaware of any material he wrote in defense of annihilationism. Thanks for your support!

  3. Pingback: Chris Date Receives Bad Advice

  4. I like to comment on number 3 ” Do not try to defend your “Reformed-ness” in this debate.”

    Like it or not if you can’t show that your position is consistant with a Reformed perspective you will have lost this debate.

    That is just how it is.

    As you know I suggested to you opponent to try and stick to scripture when presenting his argument.

    I would suggest you spend some more time with the Giants of the faith before you The fact is every passage that you believe supports your position has been studied and meditated on countless times by great men with profound incite into Word of God who did not see what you think you see there.

    That does not mean that you are wrong it only means that you have quite a high bar to clear.


  5. Hi FMM,

    Being Reformed, I have no problem defending the Reformed-ness of annihilationism. I understood the emailer to be encouraging me not to defend MY being Reformed; I may have been reading it incorrectly, though. Still, I think he’s right, broadly speaking, that this is a debate between traditionalism and annihilationism, not between Calvinism and Arminianism. As such, while I will briefly refute any arguments against annihilationism that are uniquely Reformed, my focus will be on proving that annihilationism is biblical. Proving that it’s consistent with Reformed soteriology will be secondary.

    As for your suggestion, I sincerely appreciate it, but I also sincerely hope that you did not make it assuming that I haven’t spent time reading the giants upon whose shoulders I stand. I have, and continue to do so every day, but as those very giants of the faith would say I should do, I test them in light of Scripture, not the other way around. What’s more, there are giants of equal stature who DID see what I think I see in them, and I think their insight is of equal worth. Don’t you? The only way to determine which of the two competing groups of giants was right is to test them in light of Scripture.

    Hope that helps!

  6. “..not between Calvinism and Arminianism”

    “Reformed” means much more than soteriology, I’d submit to you. If that’s how you’re reading my use of it, that’s not how it’s intended. I’m talking about Reformed systematic theology as a unit when I refer to “Reformed theology”. I just wanted to make that plain, and avoid any misunderstandings.

  7. I understand, Josh, and I agree that Reformed extends beyond soteriology. I don’t, however, use it the same way you do, which seems to be “fully confesses either Westminster or LBC1689.” If that’s your definition of Reformed, I have no intent to defend the impossible, namely that annihilationism conforms with Westminster or LBC1689.

    Where on the spectrum your argument against my view from Reformed theology falls between soteriology and complete confession, I don’t know, and that will determine the extent to which I refute uniquely Reformed arguments against my position. Hence, I’ll be waiting anxiously for that information at your blog, so that I can prepare.

    I appreciate the tips, but I promise, you’ll see pretty much everything I’m going to say prior to the debate. I consciously model my debate prep after Dr. White, so if my opponent doesn’t know everything I’m going to argue ahead of time, I wasn’t being a good opponent

  8. Hi Joshua,

    I’m keeping a close eye on CH, yes. And I see citations of Gill, Augustine, Ferguson, etc., with whose cited arguments I’m familiar. Ferguson makes an argument from Christology from which proponents of your view often make, but apart from that, I suspect I’m no closer to understanding how your arguments will be uniquely Reformed, or uniquely presuppositional.

    Of course, you owe me nothing, but I do hope to see something along those lines at the blog in the days to come.

  9. Stott’s views can be found at the end of “Evangelical Essentials: A Liberal Evangelical Dialogue.”

    Author: David L. Edwards,John Stott,
    Publisher: Intervarsity Press
    Pages: 354
    ISBN10: 0830812857
    ISBN13: 9780830812851

    You may find it available cheaply on eBay.

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