Michael Brown is good for me in at least two ways: He is very good on the election of Israel, and not so good on the election of individuals. So why do I find “not so good” good? Because it provides me with another opportunity to show up the weak position of Arminianism (in a nutshell, Arminianism is I decide whether to be saved or not). This, of course, is not all I do (protesteth he too much).
I was listening to the “Israel debate” between Michael Brown and Steve Wohlberg.
Michael Brown is a Messianic Jew who believes that God’s promise to preserve (a remnant of) the Nation Israel is unconditional. He believes, therefore, that the Church has not replaced physical Israel. Steve Wohlberg is a Jewish Seventh Day Adventist who believes that God’s promise to preserve the Nation Israel was conditional. For Brown, the Church has not replaced Israel, whereas for Wohlberg (no matter how much he protests; his words say it all), the Church has replaced Israel. Thus, Brown believes in the unconditional election of Israel while Wohlberg believes in the conditional election of Israel. Election to what? Eternal life (ultimately), of course.
Both Brown and Wohlberg are Arminians, that is, they believe that only after the sinner decides to believe is he born again – the sinner’s act of faith precedes his regeneration (by God). In other words, his regeneration is the effect of his willingness to accept Christ.
I am reminded of John 6:37 and 6:40:
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out….40 “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Therefore all that the Father gives the son will consequently believe and will consequently be given eternal life. This is clearly unconditional election by which I mean that the giving of a sinner to the Son unconditionally results in the gift of eternal life. Your sick will has nothing to do with it. Once, however, God has restored you to health – raised you from the dead, more like it – you will indeed feel free to accept Christ.
Although I agree with Brown on the unconditional election of Israel, it seems to me that he is inconsistent in that
1 he believes in the unconditional election of (a remnant of) Israel, where the Father sovereignly decides to preserve Israel as a gift to the Son and thus grant Israel eternal life (and a return to the Land), but
2. also believes election (to salvation), in general, is conditional on what sinners decide to with Christ, and not on the unconditional Father’s giving of them to the Son.
Wohlberg, the Arminian, is consistent because he believes salvation for all Jews and Gentiles (all human beings without distinction and without exception) is conditional on their willing obedience to God. Brown, the Arminian, is inconsistent because he believes that unconditional election only applies to Israel.
I prefer S. Lewis Johnson and John MacArthur, who believe in both the unconditional election of Israel and the unconditional election of sinners without distinction (Jews and Gentiles).
It seems bizarre that any Arminian (Michael Brown in this instance), for whom the individual’s ability to choose Christ is sacrosanct (the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and so does not resist the wishes of the human heart), should believe in the (divine unilateral) blanket election of an amorphous group (Israel) but not in the election of individuals. God, of course, Brown might retort, does not have his eye on the entire “apple of his eye” (“whoever touches you [Israel] touches the apple of his eye” – Zecharia 2:8), but only on a thinnish slice, that is, on particular individuals; those particular Jews (comprising 1. those who join the Church and 2. the unbelieving remnant) whom the Father has given together with particular Gentiles to the Son before the world began.
Thus, Michael Brown’s stance on election is bizarre because he believes in the election of the Jewish goose (not without exception; remember the remnant) but not in the election of the Gentile gander. Gentile election in the Arminian scheme is similar to the election of a president: the voter chooses him or her based on something good in them. God looks down the corridors of time to check out all the whosoevers willing to vote for Him, and elects them. ” Ah, look, there’s another one. Here Son, he’s yours.”