Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, February 13, 2006

Causation, Death, Foreknowledge and Hank

I was driving to work this past Friday morning listening to the Thursday afternoon replay of the Bible Answer Man when this fellow calls in and asks Hank a question summarized as follows:

There are Christians who believe God has determined when people will die. They base it upon Psalm 139:16 and Luke 12:20. Is that true? Has God ordained the exact time when a person will die?

Well, instead of answering "Yes, because that is what the Bible teaches" and then ask the caller why he had a problem with this teaching and cite further textual proof with Hebrews 9:27, James 4:13-17 and 1 Samuel 2:6, Hank replied "Yes," but then took opportunity to pile confusion upon this caller and the rest of his radio audience by misinforming them as to the biblical doctrine of God's sovereignty.

Hank's main argument went along these lines:

Just because God knows about something doesn't mean He is the cause of it; He just knows about it.


Then Hank provided an illustration by employing one of his famous "Hankisms:" Just because you many know about two friends getting married doesn't mean you caused them to get married. This is something of a variant on his "Sonny and Cher" theology, in which Hank tries to link a comparison between the absolute sovereign knowledge of all future events by our Creator God, to us mere creatures and our knowledge of the demise of a relationship between two has-been celebrities that took place 30 years ago.

My immediate question upon hearing his "you just know about the marriage, you didn't cause it" argument was, "But, what if you introduced the couple to each other?"

At any rate, I find Hank's overt denial of God's sovereignty as to when a person is appointed to die mystifying in light of how I hear him often castigate people for handling God's Word in various cavalier ways. I guess in this particular instance it is "OK" to read our traditions onto the text?

Let's see. If God just knows about when a person dies, but doesn't cause it, then I guess all the events in human history have all ready played out apart from God and He, being eternal and with the ability to see into future time, only just knows about when people will die? God never causes their death, He just sees it and knows about it and just make accurate predictions? Am I hearing Hank correctly?

I reckon then, that in turn means there was at one time knowledge outside of God's immediate knowledge? Which would mean God had to learn about that knowledge? If that is the case, theoretically, there is still some knowledge God doesn't know about, but I would imagine Hank would argue no and that God has all knowledge, which means he learned everything He needed to know to make our world, and all that is contained there in both physical and metaphysical, go around sometime back in our far away past. And he is suppose to be the Bible Answer Man?

The Calvinist Gadfly has the Calvinist Gadfly Awards, but I suggest a more specific category in honor of Hank:

The Hank Hanegraff Award of Achievement in the Field of Reading Your Tradition onto the Biblical Text and Still Claim You are Doing Proper Bible Study

We can call it a "Hankey"

The Bible Un-Answer Man Strikes Again

From the Calvinism Hater Files



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