Foreknowledge Doesn’t Require Predestination

November 2, 2017

By: Dr. Leighton Flowers,
Director of Apologetics for Texas Baptists

An event can be certainly known without necessarily being determined by the one who certainly knows. To suggest otherwise is a modal fallacy which conflates certainty with necessity. (William Lane Craig explains more here.) 

You and I may know for a certainty that I posted this very article at Soteriology101.com on September 17, 2017, but only one of us determined to do that. Knowledge of the event does not necessarily have a causal link to the determination of that event. 

But what about events known in the future by an omnipotent Creator? Are all events that God foreknows only foreknown because He Himself has determined them to come to pass, as many Calvinistic scholars imply in their argumentation? I do not believe so. Allow me to explain why. 

Consider this passage as just one of many examples:

“David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” Then David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will surrender you.” Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.” -??1 Samuel? ?23:9-13? ?ESV??

The passage above proves that God foreknew of an expedition that did NOT come to pass, therefore demonstrating that exhaustive divine foreknowledge of all things does not equal exhaustive divine predetermination of all things. 

A Calvinist may rebut by saying, “But God also foreknew David would ask these questions and leave the city after being told Saul was coming.” 

I would respond by saying, “so what?” The fact is that God foreknew an event that did not come to pass. That is all that is needed to establish that foreknowledge doesn’t necessitate determinism. Plus, the point of our contention is not over whether or not God foreknew of David’s questions and his response, the real contention is over whether the knowledge itself necessitated or determined David’s choices. There is nothing logically or biblically to suggest that it did. After all, God foreknew of Saul’s expedition and that never came to pass. 

Biblical translator for Logos Bible Software and Phd in ancient near east languages, Dr. Michael S Heiser, teaches more on this point for those who are interested: CLICK HERE.

The Joyful Life of A Pastor’s Wife Part 4: Coping With Criticism

November 1, 2017

By: Kara Barnette, Pastor’s Wife
Faith Baptist Church Faith, NC

My three preacher’s kids love a good Nerf gun war.

Sometimes we go out into the yard, heavily armed with our Nerf weaponry of varied size and caliber, and shoot each other mercilessly until all the squishy, foam ammunition has been exhausted, having disappeared into trees and bushes and the neighbor’s driveway.  The more we get shot, the harder we laugh.  It’s fantastic.

Getting pelted with criticism, however, is no fun at all.  

Words of disapproval about the church or the pastor from members of a congregation don’t just bounce-off the body like those Nerf bullets do.  They penetrate the heart, burden the mind, and crush the spirit.  They can even run a pastor’s family out of a church or a pastor out of ministry altogether.

Fighting discouragement when living a life of ministry is a real war.  And winning that war requires a strategy which must include deflecting disparaging comments and derogatory suggestions.  Here are some simple tactics for how a pastor’s wife can cope with criticism about the church or pastor fired at herself or her children.

Refuse to serve as an intermediary between critics and the pastor.

This policy is the Golden Rule for surviving criticism.  When complainers in the church come to the pastor’s wife wanting her to pass along messages to her husband about how the music is too loud, the air conditioning is too cold, the missions budget is too large, the sermons are too long, etc…a wise pastor’s wife refuses to pass-along those messages. Ever.

First, serving as a go-between is damaging to the pastor’s marriage, which can become strained when congregational criticism slithers its way onto his dinner table or into his bedroom.  We certainly do not want our husbands to spend their time with us hearing about every layperson who has a bone-to-pick with them.  After all, a busy pastor’s time with his wife is precious and should be pleasant.

Furthermore, the pastor’s wife serving as a go-between is damaging to the pastor’s ministry.  A pastor stands in the pulpit as a source of authority and influence.  But when “things get done” at the hands of his wife who fields complaints and solves problems, the pastor’s strength is diminished.  Allowing disgruntled members of the congregation to use her to accomplish their goals is just like the Philistines using Delilah to cut Samson’s hair (Judges 16).

But perhaps most importantly, a pastor and his wife must have a zero-tolerance policy about criticism being sent through their kids.  Preacher’s kids can be seriously wounded or even permanently scarred by that practice. Anyone who tries to send home negative messages through my children about the church or about my husband will find himself in a pretty intense sit-down meeting with my husband and me and a whole posse of deacons.

Teach the congregation how to handle criticism.

Everyone is unhappy about stuff in the church sometimes.  Even the pastor’s wife herself!  But neither she nor any other layperson should be a burden by funneling all complaints to the pastoral staff.  Utilizing the God-ordained leaders of the various entities inside the church will ensure a spiritual engine that runs much smoother.

When my children were toddlers, I taught them to clean-up their toys after they played and to not throw food on the floor.  A joyful pastor’s wife must similarly teach her congregation that there are appropriate channels to funnel criticism…and most of those channels have nothing to even do with the pastor.  The loudness of the music can be determined by the Music Director or audio-visual team; chilly air conditioning is a facilities issue that can be resolved the Building and Grounds Committee; and the missions budget can be determined by the Missions Team.  As for the sermons being too long…well…those sermons have been bestowed by God, so critics will have to take-up that complaint with Him.

Avoid close proximity with critics.  

I was once taken hostage for a whole day.  True story.

I was placed in the backseat of a late-model blue mini-van and driven an hour away from my home.  I was then forced for approximately four hours to walk around while being tortured by my two well-dressed female captors before being driven back to my house.  The experience is a terrible memory for me.

  1.  Maybe I wasn’t really taken hostage. Or tortured.  But I felt like it.  I had unwisely agreed to spend an afternoon shopping at an outlet mall with two well-known critics in the congregation.  No sooner had I clicked my seatbelt in the back of that mini-van did I realize I was in for an afternoon of listening to endless fussing.  The low point came when the lady in the passenger’s seat criticized my husband for drinking from water bottles while he preached.  She understood that his throat gets dry from all that talking, but she said she couldn’t concentrate on his sermons while watching him destroy the Earth by filling landfills with all those plastic water bottles.

Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up, folks.

A joyful pastor’s wife avoids getting “stuck” with chronic critics.  She doesn’t sit beside them at fellowship dinners or worship services.  She avoids long phone conversation with them.  She changes shifts so she doesn’t have nursery duty with them. And she sure doesn’t take day trips to the outlet mall with them.  Just as persistent criticism can damage her marriage, her husband’s ministry, and her children, experience teaches the pastor’s wife that criticism can damage her, too.

Don’t let the terrorists win.  

Coping with criticism is a more important issue than water bottles and outlet malls. Than the temperature in the sanctuary. Or than getting out of service early enough to find a table at a restaurant on Sunday afternoons.  

It’s serious business.

Criticism comes from Satan himself as an attempt to stop the work of God.  Weren’t the words spoken by the serpent in the Garden ultimately a criticism of the one, simple rule the Lord had given Adam and Eve?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;  but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”  The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5 NASB).

In essence, Satan said,  Did God really give you that ridiculous rule? Do what I want instead. Get your husband to eat this fruit, Eve… We don’t need to hear what God says.  

 

To the pastor’s wife today, Satan whispers through critics…

Get the worship music played softer, Eve.

Get the air conditioning turned-down, Eve.

Get the missions budget reduced, Eve.

Get the sermons shortened, Eve…We don’t need to hear what God says.

Most critics don’t realize they’re being used by the enemy to do evil.  They actually think they’re helping.  Making things better.  Speaking for the masses.  They come to us because pastors’ wives are often sweet-spirited, patient, and approachable. But listening to their criticism leads to distraction, to discouragement, and eventually to destruction.  

Perhaps criticism will never bounce-off a pastor’s wife like a Nerf bullet can.  Perhaps she will never laugh with pleasure when faultfinders barrage her and her children with their spiteful ammunition.  But she can win the war.  She can cope with criticism.  And she can be joyful.  

 

When The Pastor Receives Criticism

October 30, 2017

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Dr. Floyd’s personal website and is used by permission.

By: Dr. Ronnie Floyd
Pastor, Cross Church Northwest, Arkansas
President, National Day of Prayer

After thirty-one years of serving the same church, I can assure you that as a pastor, you will receive criticism. Understanding this is part of reality will help see you through the grim times.

I know many pastors, and each one has undergone criticism. Criticism is inescapable in the life of a pastor. Few things challenge a pastor more than criticism.

There have been times when criticism has absolutely devastated me. It is especially difficult to receive criticism when given by someone you respect deeply or by someone who has completely misunderstood a situation.

Criticism can sideline or paralyze you, or it can help you be better in the future. I have personally experienced each of these situations.

Unquestionably, many times criticism is unfair; at other times, it is right on, with 100% accuracy! So, when you receive criticism as a pastor, what should you do? How should you respond?

1. Accept criticism.

When someone criticizes you as a pastor, accept it. Accept it with grace. I know this can be difficult at times, but do not let your body language demonstrate defensiveness or disapproval. Assure the person criticizing you that you will receive what they say, consider it, pray about it, and determine the direction God wants you to go in the future.

2. Learn from criticism.

Criticism can be a great teacher. We should always be teachable, even through criticism. We are not perfect. We are not sinless. We make mistakes. We need to own them. We need to confess them as sin. If we have wronged someone, we need to make it right with them.

Those who are spiritually mature are able to learn from criticism. Pastors, always take the high road; you will never face a traffic jam there.

3. Outlive criticism.

If a person criticizes you unfairly, outlive it! Through the course of time, a life of integrity and honesty can overcome the criticism of others. Sooner or later, their criticism of you will fall on deaf ears.

Nothing is more powerful than a pastor who lives a consistent and Christ-centered life. Through time and the grace of God, you can outlive your greatest critic and the most unfair criticism. Therefore, outlive your criticism!