Thursday, March 03, 2011


What’s the big deal about asking questions? Can’t people hedge their bets simply by putting a question mark at the end of their statements without the hyper-Calvies getting all whacky on them? Has anyone considered the fact that there’s no way that an actual argument can be expressed solely by asking questions without making a single declarative statement?

If it was the case that one could present an argument solely in question format, don’t you think that more and more people would be involved in such tactics than we currently see? How many people present arguments based only on questions anyway? Wouldn’t it have to be a vast minority, perhaps even none? Could you really see the majority of people being able to do such a thing?

Have we allowed our culture to fall to such depths that the mere expression of questions now means that we can discern the “hidden” objective of the question asker? Seriously, isn’t that a flawed type of thinking? What would be the results if we allowed this sort of hyper-Calvie witch hunt to continue? Would Bell be able to write another book? Would Olson be able to comment on it? What about Witherington?

Do you think that maybe this is the sort of thing that should have been examined before Justin Taylor went off the reservation in assailing a man who’s work hasn’t even been sold yet? Isn’t it precisely that sort of jumping-the-gun that causes 99% of the problems between the Neo-Reformed and Real Christians? Haven’t Arminians and Calvinists fought each other enough? Isn’t it time to end the philosophical and theological bloodshed?

How could I possibly make this more obvious to you?


  1. There's something funny about this post. Can't quite put my finger on it...

  2. Peter Pike, have you stopped molesting children?


  3. Who can deny that all questions are innocent? Would such a person be worthy of lashes? After all, doesn't everyone know that questions aren't arguments?

    (laughing out loud - well done, sir!)

  4. Who knew that watching all those episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway? with their game of "Questions Only" would come in so handy?

  5. Jesus did that all the time. He would respond to a question or challenge with another question.

  6. Ok, OKAY, ok! What's with all these 14 questions? Can't someone please provide answers?

    Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
    Job 38:2 "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
    Job 38:3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.
    Job 38:4 "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.
    Job 38:5 Who determined its measurements--surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?
    Job 38:6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone,
    Job 38:7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
    Job 38:8 "Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb,
    Job 38:9 when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band,
    Job 38:10 and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors,
    Job 38:11 and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed'?
    Job 38:12 "Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place,
    Job 38:13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?
    Job 38:14 It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment.
    Job 38:15 From the wicked their light is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken.
    Job 38:16 "Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?
    Job 38:17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
    Job 38:18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.
    Job 38:19 "Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness,
    Job 38:20 that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home?
    Job 38:21 You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!
    Job 38:22 "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
    Job 38:23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?
    Job 38:24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
    Job 38:25 "Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt,
    Job 38:26 to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man,
    Job 38:27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass?
    Job 38:28 "Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew?
    Job 38:29 From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
    Job 38:30 The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
    Job 38:31 "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?
    Job 38:32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children?
    Job 38:33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?
    Job 38:34 "Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you?
    Job 38:35 Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, 'Here we are'?
    Job 38:36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?
    Job 38:37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
    Job 38:38 when the dust runs into a mass and the clods stick fast together?
    Job 38:39 "Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
    Job 38:40 when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in their thicket?
    Job 38:41 Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food?

  7. JD SAID:

    "Jesus did that all the time. He would respond to a question or challenge with another question."


    Resist the impulse to be gratuitously contentious. You know perfectly well that's not the issue.

  8. My wife is a big fan of Rob Bell and believes these are questions meant to just make us think. I hope she's right. However, we're going to go through his new book together eventually and discuss it and if there's heresy in it, we deal with it. Ben Witherington also had an excellent blog on this recently.

    For the record, I consider myself more Arminian (No debate on this issue for me) and I see it as the hyper-Calvinist side at work. I have great friends who are Calvinists and others who are definitely Arminian.

    If Bell is teaching something heretical, we deal with it after its been established.

  9. I have the odd feeling that Bell's ultimate answer on the question of hell will be: "Do I believe in hell? I'm not sure that I do."

    Of course, if someone said, "Do I believe in Jesus? I'm not sure that I do," then we all know the actual answer is: "No. You don't believe in Jesus."

    The easiest way to avoid the label of Heresy is to hide behind uncertainty.

  10. J. Patrick Smith,

    I want to acknowledge the strength of your closing observation as being very powerful and insightful indeed.

    The easiest way to avoid the label of Heresy is to hide behind uncertainty.



  11. So what are you trying to say?

  12. I'm not being gratuitously contentious. I'm sorry if I gave that impression.

  13. Nick said:

    "For the record, I consider myself more Arminian (No debate on this issue for me) and I see it as the hyper-Calvinist side at work. I have great friends who are Calvinists and others who are definitely Arminian. "

    No worries about me trying to debate you about Arminianism, but I'm curious how you see "hyper-Calvinism" affecting all this? Were you intending to mean "really passionate Calvinists," or something along those lines? Or did you actually intend to refer to a specific theological position, with beliefs distinct from both Calvinism and Arminianism?

  14. I mean what I saw referred to I thought in the article and what Ben Witherington has talked about.

    There are some who on any side of an issue make that issue far more important than it should. I'm a Preterist for instance, but I would not want to make it a point to look at dispensationalists (Like my lovely wife) as lesser Christians. Many of us who are old-earthers have also met young-earthers like this as well.

    Witherington refers to Piper. I'd also include James White. I just can't listen to White any more really because when it comes to Calvinism, he goes overboard. It really drives me away.

    And yes, some quite close friends of mine are firm believers in Calvinism and the number of times we've argued over our difference....?


    We can discuss it, but never divide. That's always been my case. I'm willing to discuss a non-essential but when it becomes a point of fellowship, I'm moving on.

    My focus is apologetics. I'm more interested in defending Mere Christianity than in debates concerning secondary doctrines.

  15. Nick,

    So you know, I used the term in my above article precisely because Calvinists (such as myself) have been slandered as being hypercalvinists by people on this very issue. How objecting to universalism or annihilism became equivalent to hypercalvinism is beyond me, but that's what the Arminian blogs are doing now.

  16. is giving away copies of R.C. Sproul's The Holiness of God audiobook for free for a limited time.

  17. "I have the odd feeling that Bell's ultimate answer on the question of hell will be: "Do I believe in hell? I'm not sure that I do."

    Excellent! And this demonstrates that, while people want to say, "hear him out," it is not totally unfair to acknowledge that this is not the first thing Bell has ever said.