Reformed Theology

 

The Intellectual Pit Bull of the Evangelical Church?

 


Correspondence Between James White and Ergun Caner

     While traveling in Scotland recently I was made aware of an on-going thread of comments on the Founders Blog involving Dr. Ergun Caner of Liberty University.  I had encountered Dr. Caner's anti-Calvinism before, and, given his self-promotion as an apologist and defender of the faith, I had invited him to engage the topic in public debate.  He had declined three such invitations, one from a young man who had contacted him (and I had become involved directly), one from a Christian High School in Sedalia, and one from Mike O'Fallon in reference to one of our upcoming conferences.  This led to a rather lengthy exchange of e-mails, in size, though not in time, as most of what comes below was exchanged in less than 24 hours. 
     I make this information available for a single reason: I would encourage the reader to "track" the conversation as you read it.  Mark direct questions I asked of Dr. Caner, and see if he ever even attempts to give a response.  Be consistent and do the same in reverse, and then ponder which side is open to the Word of God and which side is not.  Which side wants a true dialogue and which side wants only a monologue?  I believe the answer is very clear given what appears below.  And as to simple fairness, respect, ability to engage a theological subject in a scholarly fashion--I leave the reader to come to his or her own conclusions.
     As of the posting of this material (2/23/06) I do not know if Dr. Caner will even so much as engage in a written exchange.  I continue to hope he will live up to his own PR materials and allow a debate in Lynchburg itself.  I continue to stand ready to do so.
     This exchange took place mainly on February 21st, my first e-mail being written while I was still in Scotland on February 20th, 2006.

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Dear Dr. Caner:

Today I logged on to your website, erguncaner.com, and noted the very professional appearance of the site. It likewise has a large graphic with the phrases, "without fear, without fail, without flinching." In light of your consistent avoidance of direct challenges from credible individuals such as myself to debate, and I would hope, correct your misapprehensions and misrepresentations of Reformed theology, I found the graphic somewhat ironic. It does seem that on the issue of your erroneous statements on "Calvinism," you have, and continue to, both flinch, and fail.

You are aware, sir, that you have been approached a number of times to debate this issue. I doubt highly, sir, that you have been challenged to debate by anyone with more documented debate experience; I likewise doubt you have been challenged by someone who has taught at a Southern Baptist Seminary since 1995, either. I doubt you have been challenged by someone who has written as many books on the subject, and defended the topic in debate, as often as I have. If I am incorrect, I ask you to correct me.

Dr. Caner, I am asking you directly if you have 1) ever read any of my books; 2) ever read The Potter's Freedom; 3) ever read any of my other books relevant to Calvinism, including my recent debate book with Dave Hunt; 4) ever listened to any debates I have ever done. Could you answer these questions? They seem to go directly to the credibility of one who would claim, as you have claimed, that Dr. Geisler's appendix, which has been thoroughly debunked on an embarrassing level, is in fact worthy of being given any level of credibility. Also, if you are going to claim that the appendix, which is so poor it cannot even cite my book correctly 3/4s of the time, and even accuses me of misrepresentation when I was the one who caught the original typographical error in Geisler's book, reported it to Bethany House so it could be fixed (a fact Geisler missed), should you not take the time to at least read my fully documented response which is, I believe, longer than Geisler's appendix? One that has never even been mentioned by Geisler, let alone refuted? Surely you do not use this kind of approach when approaching the likes of Badawi or Ally, do you?

You wrote:

1. DR. WHITE VS. DR GEISLER: Interesting that Dr. White believes he corrected Dr. Geisler's Chosen But Free...virtually every person I know who has read the 2nd edition of CHOSEN, even reformed-minded, believe Dr. Geisler thoroughly won...

Could you direct me, sir, to any Reformed minded person, just one, who actually read Geisler's appendix, read my book, read my response, and came to such a conclusion? Just one, sir? I've never met one, personally, so I would like to do so. I'm sure you could do so, or you would never say such a thing in public.

You likewise said:

2. DEBATE DR. WHITE: Explain to me again- WHY debate a non-Southern Baptist again? I thought Founders was an SBC site? Perhaps I was mistaken.

I was originally ordained and licensed in a Southern Baptist Church; graduate of a Southern Baptist College; and have been teaching for a dozen years in a Southern Baptist seminary. Further, as a Reformed Baptist, exactly what distinctive of "Baptist" do you think is necessary to be able to debate this issue properly? I have debated Presbyterians on the topic of paedobaptism, and will be doing so again in just a matter of months (Bill Shishko of the OPC). I hold to, and defend, Baptist distinctives. I am sorry, but for someone who promotes himself as you do as fearless, making an issue of this seems quite out of line, don't you think?

Dr. Caner, either you do not understand Calvinism, or you are misrepresenting it. Out of Christian charity I will say you do not understand it. I believe God's people would be very blessed by a thorough, biblically based debate on the doctrines of grace. I would gladly do so at Liberty University, or any location of your request, before all of your students. You need to remember, Dr. Caner, that I am willing to debate Shabir Ally in Toronto in front of his own audience; I have mentioned my desire to debate him in Birmingham, UK, before the Islamic Student's Association. I do not make these challenges lightly---and I can promise you a very challenging debate, if you will simply realize that you need to stand up and defend your claims in public debate. If you will look at www.aomin.org/James.html, you will be able to see that I have a long history of meaningful, scholarly, respectful debates on a wide variety of issues. Truly, outside of scheduling issues, there should be no reason why you would continue to take the public stands that you do without facing me in public and Christian debate on this issue. I look forward to hearing from you, especially in response to my questions asked above.

James>>>

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Dear Dr. White:

Having seen your references throughout the Founders' blog, and knowing that this is a subject of particular interest to you- let me respond. I am sure I shall see and hear of this exchange. However, when I am quoted, please be assured that I ask I be quoted correctly:

1. Why exactly would you want to debate me? In fact, why would you want to debate the topic again? Dave Hunt and Norm Geisler have BOTH taken you on quite well, and proven our points effectively.

2. In fact, this is the frustration- Chosen But Free (2nd ed.) did in fact silence any points you were seeking to make. Yet, even AFTER they were finished, you were still claiming victory? How, exactly? To whom, other than the cadre of the Bezians, did you prove your points?

3. Thirdly, WHY would you want to debate me, a Southern Baptist? The Founders' issue is supposedly a SBC site, where the semi-Presbyterians want to revise our Anabaptist, free church and dissenter heritage. Perhaps you should debate someone in your own camp to stir up the interest you seek?

4. And the typographical errors in Dr. Geisler's book hardly hold up to the theological ones in POTTER'S FREEDOM.

5. Finally, issuing challenges, while certainly interesting, do not prove or disprove anything. I have in fact read your books, and I continue to hold to the NON-5-pointer position in both exegesis, philosophy, church history and theology. They did nothing to dissuade myself, my brother, or anyothers in the Non-Calvinistic world. HOW can you say Dr. Geisler's arguments were debunked??? By whom? Oh, that's right, by OTHER five-pointers like yourself. My goodness, how scholarship ever survived until the theocrat from Geneva arrived is beyond me. His thorough refutation of hyper-Calvinism and reprobation stands up quite nicely, whatever responses you offer.

Feel free to maintain your position as a Calvinist.
Others shall remain Armenian.
I shall choose neither- I am a Baptist.
I assume I am predestined to do so.

Whosoever will:

ergun

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NOTE:  at this point I will begin to differentiate between my text and Dr. Caner's using color to aid the reader in following the discussion.

On 2/20/06, Ergun Caner <ergun@erguncaner.com> wrote:

Dear Dr. White:

Having seen your references throughout the Founders' blog, and knowing that this is a subject of particular interest to you- let me respond. I am sure I shall see and hear of this exchange. However, when I am quoted, please be assured that I ask I be quoted correctly:


Dr. Caner:

I am very disappointed in your response. The fact that you did not respond to any of my questions indicates very clearly that you have not, in fact, read my books, despite your claim to do so found later in your e-mail. The fact that you fail to ever provide a SINGLE reference to any of the alleged errors in my work further proves this point. Hence, any and all comments you make are based upon ignorance, not upon scholarly concern for the truth, and this is truly troubling in light of your position and your work. I would never, and have never, engaged in public commentary as you have without first doing the requisite work and study to be able to accurately represent someone's position and by following up with direct citation of their words, which again, you fail to provide.

1. Why exactly would you want to debate me? In fact, why would you want to debate the topic again? Dave Hunt and Norm Geisler have BOTH taken you on quite well, and proven our points effectively.

Since you have not read my rebuttal of Geisler your statement is left without any meaningful basis. It is the voice of prejudice, not the voice of truth. The commentary on Hunt is likewise almost humorous: Hunt's materials are so full of errors he has had to revise his book numerous times, and has to do so once again, given how often I have documented them. But you would be unaware of these things, since you have not read my debate book with him, nor read my frequent documentation of his errors, including his citation of cultic Yahweh sites as evidence that the first fifteen chapters of Acts were not written in Greek but in Hebrew, utterly undercutting the doctrine of inerrancy? I am quite certain you have no idea what I'm talking about, since you have not taken the time to even be aware of the issues you are so confident in addressing. I truly, truly hope you do not engage in apologetics against Islam with the same cavalier attitude, sir. I truly do.

FACT: I have documented the errors of both Geisler and Hunt. Geisler and Hunt have never responded. They sit in stoney silence. Both refuse all challenges to debate or discuss the issue whatsoever. Please, sir, do not go about saying otherwise. You will be presenting untruths if you do, and now, you will be doing so knowingly.

2. In fact, this is the frustration- Chosen But Free (2nd ed.) did in fact silence any points you were seeking to make. Yet, even AFTER they were finished, you were still claiming victory? How, exactly? To whom, other than the cadre of the Bezians, did you prove your points?

But the page number errors were almost insignificant next to the most amazing aspect of this attempted review. The reader may have noted that to this point I have referred to "the appendix," "the review," and "the author(s)," not to Dr. Geisler. The reason is simple: I find it next to impossible to believe that Dr. Geisler actually wrote the entirety of this review. Why? Because this review not only ignores the vast majority of the book it is allegedly responding to, but much more, the author(s) of this review either lacks the capacity, or the integrity, to deal with the material before him or her in an honest, contextual fashion. The interaction offered is so flawed on a consistent basis that one is left, at times, completely speechless that anyone with a high school education, let alone multiple doctorates, could ever produce such material. So consistently does the review miss the basics of the English language that I have concluded that it simply could not come from Dr. Geisler's pen. Surely, he is accountable for it, as it appears under his name, but I truly believe he entrusted the task to someone else, perhaps an undergraduate student or students (a class project, perhaps?), as this is the only possible explanation for the kind of egregiously silly errors one finds in this response.

Strong words require factual backing. Here is the classic example of how this review completely ignores context and loses all contact with reality in its desperate attempt to give the appearance of a response to TPF.

On page 29 of TPF I was just getting started in explaining the need for a response to Dr. Geisler's attack upon Reformed theology. In explaining various aspects of the issues raised by Dr. Geisler, I wrote the following paragraph:

There is great confidence in trusting in God's sovereignty, especially when it comes to the fact that even Christians are willing to place their own supposed freedom and autonomy over the true freedom and autonomy of God. I have seen many precious souls struggle through these foundational issues and emerge changed, strengthened, with a new and lasting appreciation of the holiness and love of God along with a passion for His grace that cannot be erased. While I am grieved at the confusion that books like CBF cause, I am confident that the Word is so clear, so plain, and so compelling, that the mere presentation of its truths is sufficient for the child of God. And it is to that we now turn.

I honestly do not believe this is a difficult paragraph to understand. The context and meaning are easily discerned. I am not here discussing Dr. Geisler's exegesis. In fact, he is not mentioned in the paragraph. CBF is mentioned only in passing as a source of confusion. But the point of the paragraph is simple: God's truth remains God's truth, and when Christians honestly seek to know God's truth from the pages of His Word, they will find it. It may involve struggle, as they work through traditions and misunderstandings, but the Word is sufficient for the task.

Evidently, however, the paragraph caused no end of difficulty for the author or authors of the newly published "response" in CBF. Twice a single phrase from this page is cited in the response. That phrase is "mere presentation," found in the second to last line of the paragraph, "I am confident that the Word is so clear, so plain, and so compelling, that the mere presentation of its truths is sufficient for the child of God." The first time "mere presentation" appears is on page 255 under the subtitle, "Ad Hominem." We read,

This fallacy literally means a response "to the man" (rather than to the argument). Throughout PF, the author takes great pride in his exegetical skills, while any exegesis of the text contrary to his is labeled not "consistent" (19), not "meaningful" (20), not "in depth" (136), a "mere presentation" (29), or not based on "definitive" works (254).

None of the citations are even semi-accurate examples of ad hominem, and each is a fascinating example of how to avoid the obvious, but note especially the inclusion of the phrase "mere presentation" and the reference, (29). Here we are told that if a person were to look on page 29 of TPF they would find a seemingly prideful dismissal of Dr. Geisler's exegetical conclusions as a "mere presentation." And yet, the reader is invited to once again read the above cited paragraph and attempt to figure out how anyone could possibly make any logical connection between what actually appears on page 29 of TPF and what this review alleges is on that page. There is simply no way to so completely and utterly misread such a passage. It is bad enough that one such blunder would appear in the text of the review, but the error is only compounded by the fact that the same review repeats the same error but this time it contradicts itself and gives a completely different context! This is why this might well have been a "class project," as this kind of incredible inconsistency would be explainable on that basis. Note what is said on page 258:

It contends that a "mere presentation" of my view is not sufficient (29), yet it sometimes does the same for its view and at times even no presenta­tion at all, such as an explanation of one of the most difficult verses for extreme Calvinists, 2 Peter 2:1 (251).

Note that this time the phrase "mere presentation" is placed not in the alleged context of ad hominem argument against the exegesis of Dr. Geisler, but in a completely different arena! One is simply left without words to describe the utter lack of coherent thought that lies behind such a reply. [And I note in passing that this review, which is defending an allegedly "comprehensive" work against Calvinism that somehow did not include any meaningful exegesis of John 6:37-44, ignores the fact that I referred my readers to Gary Long's fine, and very full, discussion of 2 Peter 2:1.]

A singular example, you say? Hardly. The reader who actually sits down, as I have, and looks each reference up will be left in shock by the end of the second page of this review. Here is another example that displays the same complete lack of comprehension of the basics of language and discourse.

To grasp just how completely this review misses the mark, it is necessary to provide a fairly large section from chapter two of TPF. In this chapter I carefully and methodically traced Dr. Geisler's view on "predeterminately knowing/knowingly predetermining" back through his earlier writings. I interacted with these sources, attempting to explain Geisler's view as accurately as possible. Note the following:

Right here we run directly into the most problematic element of Geisler's paradigm: "there is no chronological or logical priority of election and foreknowledge." That means that in his system one cannot ask the question that has been asked by generations of theologians before him: it has always been recognized that God either bases His election and decrees on what he foresees in the free actions of creatures, or, His decree and election determines what takes place in time. In the first scenario, the creatures are by default the sovereigns of the universe, since their wills and actions are ultimate; God becomes a mere servant of the creature, reacting rather than reigning. In the second, God is absolutely free and man, the creature, acts in accordance with his created nature. But Geisler (it seems) attempts to chart a different course, in essence saying that one cannot ask which one gives rise, logically, to the other.

Geisler bases this assertion on the statement that "all of God's attributes are one with his indivisible essence. Hence, both foreknowledge and predetermination are one in God." It is somewhat startling that generations of Christian theologians could have missed such a simple truth and as a result have needlessly argued over this issue for generations. But does the simplicity of the Being of God necessitate that there really is no logical relationship between foreknowledge and predetermination?

It is at this very point that Geisler's thesis is subject to devastating criticism. John Feinberg was quite right to respond:

But, granting God such knowledge does not mean that he does not know the logical sequence and relations among the items that he knows. Moreover, granting that God foreordains all things simultaneously does not mean that there is no logical order in what he foreordains. For example, God always knew that Christ would be born and would also die. But he also understood that logically (as well as chronologically) one of those events had to precede the other. That does not mean that God knew one of those events before he knew the other. It only means that in knowing both simultaneously, he knows the logical and chronological relation between the two events.

Indeed, one can point to the fact that God is fully just and fully merciful. Yet, even these two aspects of God's character bear a logical relationship to the other: one cannot define mercy without logical reference to justice. Hence, the mere assertion that God's Being is simple and one does not logically entail accepting the idea that there is no logical relationship between God's act of decreeing, His election, His foreordination, and his knowledge of future events. We must agree with Feinberg when he summarizes the question Geisler (and everyone else) must answer: "does God foreknow because he foreordains or does he foreordain because he foreknows?" The fact is we will see that Dr. Geisler does take a de facto position on this topic.

Geisler continues:

More properly, we should speak of God as knowingly determining and determinately knowing from all eternity everything that happens, including all free acts….In other words, all aspects of the eternal purpose of God are equally timeless. For if God is an eternal and simple Being then his thoughts must be coordinate and unified.

Whatever he forechooses cannot be based on what he foreknows. Nor can what he foreknows be based on what he forechose. Both must be simultaneous and coordinate acts of God. Thus God knowingly determined and determinately knew from all eternity everything that would come to pass, including all free acts. Hence, they are truly free actions, and God determined they would be such. God then is totally sovereign in the sense of actually determining what occurs, and yet humans are completely free and responsible for what they choose.

It is very difficult to understand these words, given that they are based upon the assertion that there is no logical priority of foreordination to foreknowledge, for they are "one." But given that in point of fact there is no reason to accept this assertion, we are still left with the classical conundrum of how God can be sovereign over all things on one hand, and man "completely free" on the other. Using phrases like "determinately knowing" or "knowingly determining" does not in reality solve the problem, it only confuses it.

At this point it is good to note that there is a real danger in misunderstanding the use of the term "predetermined" or just "determined." Most people upon reading this term think of a positive, volitional action on the part of God: i.e., in the sense of decreeing that something is going happen, such as the crucifixion of Christ (Acts 4:28) which took place, we are told, as God's power and will had decided beforehand. Most people understand these terms to speak to something active on the part of God. But we will see this is not Geisler's meaning. When he speaks of "knowingly determining," the active element is gone. "Determined" here refers to the passive recognition of the actions of free men, not the sovereign decree that the action would take place through the instrumentality of creatures. In other words, what Geisler means is that God "determines" what will take place through His perfect knowledge. It would be like my saying that "I determined the water in the pool was very cold by putting my toe in the water." "Determined" here is passive: I did not make the water hot or cold, I just passively took in knowledge that it was, in fact, cold. We could contrast this with my saying, "I installed a heating system in my pool, and determined the temperature would stay at 76 degrees." Here, "determined" is active because I am actually making the water a particular temperature. When Geisler speaks of God "determining" things he is saying that since God has perfect, complete, and instantaneous knowledge of all events, past, present, and future, then He determines those actions—but this is solely in the passive sense. The grand issue of whether God actively decrees whatsoever comes to pass is, in fact, directly denied. In this sense, Geisler's position, despite all the theological terminology and discussion of sovereignty, is very much the same as the Arminian who says that God merely looks into the future and elects on the basis of what He sees. While Geisler repeats his assertion that one cannot logically determine the relationship between foreknowledge and predetermination, his constant emphasis upon the absolute freedom of the creature betrays the reality of his system. (TPF, pp. 56-59).

The reader will note that the discussion of Geisler's position is full and as clear as his own confusing and non-standard use of terminology will allow. This response ignores the entirety of this chapter's argumentation, choosing instead to isolate phrases from it rather than deal with its actual content. But, the author(s) did choose to take a particularly cheap and amazingly shallow shot at me based upon this section anyway. The appendix provides a long list of alleged misrepresentations (none of which prove to be accurate upon examination), followed by the complaint that the author counts no less than forty examples of misrepresentation of his position. Then we encounter these amazing words:

Inter­estingly, in one place PF even admits finding it difficult to understand my view (58). One might ask how something can be properly evalu­ated which is not properly understood. Nonetheless, this failure to comprehend my position does not impede in the least the overly zeal­ous, pedantic, and at times somewhat arrogant critique of it in PF.

One is again left airing one's tonsils at such writing. One can find the relevant text immediately above, specifically the beginning of the paragraph that reads, "It is very difficult to understand these words, given that they are based upon the assertion that there is no logical priority of foreordination to foreknowledge, for they are 'one.'" But as anyone can see, this was not an admission that I found it difficult to understand the view, nor that I failed to comprehend it! How can the author(s) of this response possibly read that paragraph in the midst of the entirety of the context which provides full and accurate discussion of Geisler's position and make such an absurd claim as this, and then have the temerity to follow it up with language such as "overly zealous, pedantic, and at times arrogant"?

By this time the reader is surely beginning to understand why I see a group project or a misguided undergraduate student behind this response. I said on our webcast shortly after reading this review that on the simple level of utter misrepresentation of the text being reviewed, this work rivals anything produced by Gail Riplinger! Not even the Watchtower has had the courage to put this kind of material in print. And while Dr. Geisler remains responsible for it (it appears under his name), surely it is not possible that any person with graduate training could possibly miss the basic meaning of language with such consistency.

Still unconvinced? Maybe these are just two anomalies, albeit glaring and egregious ones? Well, let's try one more just to make sure the point is firmly established.

One of the issues that I raised in TPF had to do with the way CBF dealt with truly scholarly Reformed material, such as the writings of John Owen or John Piper. I documented how CBF used highly unscholarly techniques to attack Piper's work and allege error when in fact nothing of the substance of Piper's work was even quoted, let alone refuted (a technique taken to the extreme in this response). I likewise noted the amazing accusation of "adding to the Bible" on the part of CBF against John Owen. As this runs in very close parallel with the treatment of my own work, and as it again demonstrates that the original context of any work under review by CBF and its author(s) is utterly irrelevant, I reproduce the discussion here from TPF and then provide the comments from the new response.

Most frustrating to the Reformed believer who has provided a reasoned and Scripturally-based defense of their beliefs is the utter lack of serious interaction on the part of CBF with such works. There is simply no attempt to interact on a meaningful level with the many Reformed works that provide in-depth, serious biblical exegesis and argumentation in defense of the Reformed position. While some works, such as Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ and Piper's The Justification of God, are mentioned, and even cited, the responses are so surface-level that they amount to nothing more than a dismissal, not a rebuttal. And even here, the Reformed material is handled in such a cavalier manner as to make even the effort of citing it worthless. This is clearly seen in the way in which CBF will quote as little as a single sentence, and on the basis of this, accuse Reformed writers of "changing" Scripture. For example, Dr. Geisler "quotes" from John Owen and writes:

Arguably, the best defense of extreme Calvinism on limited atonement comes from John Owen. His response to this passage is a shocking retranslation to: "God so loved his elect throughout the world, that he gave His Son with this intention, that by him believers might be saved"! This needs no response, simply a sober reminder that God repeatedly exhorts us not to add to or subtract from His words (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18-19).

This citation is from page 214 of Owen's work. Was this great Christian scholar suggesting that we should "retranslate" John 3:16? Is this a fair representation of Owen's position? Not in the slightest. This citation comes toward the end of a lengthy discussion of the passage (a discussion, I note, that is significantly longer and in more depth than any discussion of any passage in all of CBF). There is no attempt whatsoever on the part of CBF to address the actual argument and the reasoning set forth. Here, in context, is what Owen said:

First, If this word whosoever be distributive, then it is restrictive of the love of God to some, and not to others,—to one part of the distribution, and not the other. And if it do not restrain the love of God, intending the salvation of some, then it is not distributive of the fore-mentioned object of it; and if it do restrain it, then all are not intended in the love which moved God to give his Son. Secondly, I deny that the word here is distributive of the object of God's love, but only declarative of his end and aim in giving Christ in the pursuit of that love,—to wit, that all believers might be saved. So that the sense is, "God so loved his elect throughout the world, that he gave his Son with this intention, that by him believers might be saved." And this is all that is by any (besides a few worthless cavils) objected from this place to disprove our interpretation….

As anyone reading the passage in context can see, to charge Owen with alteration of the Word of God is quite simply ridiculous. He not only specifically says, "the sense is…" (a phrase that would have to be cited on the basis of mere honesty if CBF is serious in accusing Owen of "adding" to the Word of God), but it is painfully obvious that Owen is interpreting the passage in the light of the preceding ten pages of argumentation he had provided. One cannot avoid noting that aside from this allegedly "sober reminder" offered by Geisler, there is not a single word of meaningful argumentation or refutation provided. (TPF, pp. 21-23).

Now surely the above would, if it were in error, demand a response from Dr. Geisler. Surely the documentation of such handling of meaningful material in such an unscholarly fashion would require a response, and rebuttal, if the accusation were unsound. But no rebuttal or correction is offered. Indeed, the documentation of this, and so many other errors, is passed over in utter silence. But, as with the above cases, this new response does not blush to take a phrase from this section, documenting a clear error in the original book, rip it from its context, and turn it around into an accusation of error on my part. Note this incredible assertion:

Name calling

Another favorite technique of PF is the fallacy of name calling. Consider only the following out of numerous examples. My reasoning and conclusion are labeled "a non-response" (217)…"quite simply ridiculous" (23)….

The reader will note that the phrase that is here turned into an example of "name calling" (!) came from the above section wherein I am documenting the utter disregard for the original context and the partial citation (CBF cuts off the beginning phrase "the sense is") of Owen's words. Such writing is "quite simply ridiculous." That is not name calling, that is factual reporting of an error the author(s) of this response ignore. The line makes perfect sense in its context, is perfectly accurate, and must be responded to by Dr. Geisler. But this response fails at every point it possibly could in providing a meaningful answer.

At the conclusion of this article is a link to the notes I typed up for our webcast. I managed to make it through only the first five or so pages before I realized this was going to take way too long due to the incredible nature of the published review. Those who need to have the point proven to them dozens of times before realizing the truth can take these notes, just as I wrote them, look up the references, and sit in stunned silence as I did as I was writing them. There is no reason to prolong the documentation of the nature of this reply at this time.

Nameless Folks and Misdirection

One of the saddest examples of the methodology of this review is found near the end of the appendix, on page 262. It seems the author(s) of this review felt it would be best to include their worst examples of mis-citation, mis-reading, and simple error in the midst of personal attacks. So we have an entire subsection titled "Pride and Exclusivism," which begins,

I am not alone in detecting a proud and exclusivistic undertone in PF. For example, it calls its view "the Reformed" view (38, emphasis added), while summarily dismissing other Reformed theologians CBF cites who do not agree with major points in its presentation (e.g., William Shedd and R. T. Kendall). The author of PF immodestly announces, "I will be demonstrating" that Geisler's view "is in error" (30). Better to set forth one's case and let the reader decide that.

One has to wonder who these nameless, faceless people are who join with the author(s) in "detecting" this pride? I "detected" lots of feelings I could have mentioned in regard to Dr. Geisler's book, but you do not present such things unless you can back up what you are saying. But the great irony is that in the midst of accusing me of being prideful, the author(s) of this review purposefully misrepresent me and give clear evidence of their desire to do so. How so? Note the second to last quoted line above which reads:

The author of PF immodestly announces, "I will be demonstrating" that Geisler's view "is in error" (30).

When I first read this, I only noted that it is hardly immodest to say that someone's view is in error, unless, of course, that person does not believe you intelligent enough, or old enough, or trained enough, to even critique their position. But as I was finishing up my notes on the response I looked up the actual context of the citation, and again groaned in unbelief at what I found. Here is the context from TPF:

The Reformed tradition is rich in honest dialogue and debate. Those who love truth will not be offended by honest, direct refutation and interaction. The "politically correct" culture we live in should not be allowed to silence meaningful theological debate. Dr. Geisler himself has written:

Third, what about those who insist that drawing lines will divide Christians? In response it must be lovingly but firmly maintained that it is better to be divided by truth than to be united by error. There is an unhealthy tendency in evangelical Christianity to hide under the banner of Christian charity while sacrificing doctrinal purity.

In the spirit of these words I offer a rebuttal of Dr. Geisler's work. This is not meant to be a presentation of the Reformed view so ably accomplished by others: my positive presentation will be limited to establishing facts that are not in evidence from a reading of CBF. Instead, I will be demonstrating that the biblical argumentation provided by Norman Geisler is in error. It is my hope that the reader will be edified by the consistent focus upon biblical exegesis, for this is, truly, the heart and soul of Reformed theology.

As I compared the citation to the original I could not help but be amazed at the use of the quotation marks in CBF. Here we cannot blame eyesight. We cannot blame a simple misreading of the text. This is purposeful, and planned. I said I would demonstrate that the biblical argumentation provided by Norman Geisler is in error. I did that. Twenty eight scholars and pastors whose names are found on TPF, and hundreds of others who have contacted me since then, agree that I did just that. The fact that Dr. Geisler does not even attempt a response on an exegetical level gives eloquent testimony that I did exactly what I promised to do. But that is not what is quoted in the new appendix to CBF. No, through the purposeful and fascinating use of quotation marks the actual substance of my statement, focused upon biblical argumentation is deleted, and Geisler's entire view, his entire theology, is placed in its stead. This, then, becomes the basis for the accusation of pride and arrogance on my part. How could a young, over-zealous, arrogant, prideful, at times pedantic apologist like James White dare to say he will prove Dr. Norman Geisler's entire viewpoint in error? How brash! But, of course, the original citation could not be used without deleting its substance. How strange would it look to accuse me of being prideful simply for saying (and proving!) someone else's biblical argumentation is in error? Can the biblical argumentation provided by two sides who contradict one another both be correct? Of course not. Hence, it follows of necessity, that the quotation, to be useful to the appendix, had to be "spun" and changed. And so it was. Such is simply disgraceful.

Where's the Exegesis?

The vast majority of this response should never have seen the light of day. Given the character of TPF as an exegetical reply to CBF, the logical response would involve exegetical rebuttal and argument. But, of course, this is exactly what is avoided by this reply. No exegesis of any disputed passage is offered. No exegesis of the many passages the original book simply forgot were relevant is provided.

One brief section, subtitled "Improper Exegesis," at least raises the issue of the interpretation of the text. But it is tremendously surface-level, and simply says:

As readers of PF can detect for themselves, the author is convinced of his exegetical skills and chides CBF for its alleged 'lack thereof. Yet PF repeatedly reads "some men" into passages that clearly and em­phatically say "all men" (140, 142). It insists against the context that 2 Peter 3:9 (where God desires that all men be saved) is not speaking about salvation (146—147). It claims that John 1:12—13 does not say "received" when the very word is used by John in this text (185). It overlooks the context that speaks of unrepentant people (Rom. 9:22), claiming Romans 9 affirms that the "only difference" between vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy is God's action. It distorts the word "saves" to "saves himself' (64), and so on.

TPF contains literally hundreds of pages of positive exegetical presentation, and this is the extent of the response offered to it? TPF documented dozens of examples of eisegesis on the part of Dr. Geisler. This is all the response that can be given? And even in offering these few sentences, the appendix stumbles over itself in making clear errors yet once again. Note the first allegation: without responding to a single argument or point of exegesis, this response simply asserts that I must be wrong in my understanding of the term "all." But since I provided contextual and linguistic arguments that are completely ignored, how can this be called a meaningful or scholarly response? Then the author(s) utterly misread the text yet again with the assertion regarding John 1:12. Compare this misrepresentation with the actual text from TPF:

But the objection does raise an interesting issue: does the text itself indicate a relationship between believing and the new birth? There are certainly some points that Dr. Geisler would have to consider to make his assertions carry weight:

1) John, as is his custom, refers to Christians as "the believing ones" (toi'" pisteuvousin). English translations normally miss this important element of John's gospel (the contrast between true, saving faith, which is almost always expressed through the use of the present tense indicating an on-going, living faith, versus false faith which is almost always placed in the aorist tense, making no statement about its consistency or vitality). It is literally, "even to those who are believing in His name" or "the believing ones (who believe) in His name." The term "believing" is a present participle.

2) The verb "born" (ejgennhvqhsan) is in the aorist passive form. In its context it is plainly said to be an act of God. All human agency is denied.

3) It follows, then, that verse 13 is a description of "the believing ones" of verse 12. Nothing is said in the text that the new birth is "received" by an "act of free will." In fact, the exact opposite is stated clearly, "the ones born not of the will of man…." It is an amazing example of how preconceived notions can be read into a text that CBF can say the text makes the new birth dependent upon an act of "free will" when the text says the opposite (184-185).

Immediately the reader again sees the simple mistake of the author(s). Nowhere does TPF say the word "received" is not in the text. This is yet another inexplicably glaring error of reading. In either case, the actual text of TPF says, "Nothing is said in the text that the new birth is 'received' by an 'act of free will.'" This is completely true. The text speaks of receiving Christ, not the new birth. By ignoring the exegesis offered, the response again paints a picture with no reality, and proves itself incapable of meaningful argumentation.

The last two examples of errors in exegesis make no more sense than the preceding ones. The entirety of chapter nine of TPF, 24 pages of exegetical presentation and interaction with Geisler's piece-meal interpretation of Romans 9 in CBF, is dismissed with a wave of the hand. And its brief, unexplained mention of "saved" to "saved himself" again causes any person who has a concern for context to shake the head in utter disbelief, as the original text bears out. The citation begins with a quote from CBF:

Whatever else may be said, God's sovereignty over the human will includes His initiating, pursuing, persuading, and saving grace without which no one would ever will to be saved. For "there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God" (Rom. 3:11).

Again the words are specific: God initiates, God pursues, God persuades, God gives saving grace, but, despite it all, the final decision is man's, "without which no one would ever will to be saved." God wills to save man, but unless man wills to save himself, he will not be saved. This is thorough-going Arminianism.

There is, of course, no "distortion" of any terms at all in the text. In fact, the comments flow directly from the consideration of Dr. Geisler's own words. How is this an error of exegesis? No one knows.

Surely no one can seriously call this a rebuttal of the exegesis offered in TPF, and such must be quite the disappointment for the legions of Arminians who prefer to call themselves "moderate Calvinists" who were chomping at the bit for some kind of rebuttal of TPF. While some of the most die-hard may find something of comfort in this response, those actually looking for scholarly rebuttal will be sorely disappointed.

Drop Back Ten and Punt

Those who need point-by-point response can do so by clicking here. There surely is no reason to drag this particularly painful experience out much farther. All who have benefited from the work of Norman Geisler in the past cannot help but feel a true sense of embarrassment at the publication of this response. I am actually thankful that I am the object of this review, for if it had been offered in response to enemies of the faith, they would have known no bounds to their joyous documentation of its every error, and would have used this as an argument against everything good that Dr. Geisler has written.

At the end of his review Dr. Geisler says he prays that that I will channel my "considerable talent and zeal toward the more pressing need of defending Christianity against those who deny the fundamentals of the faith, not those who affirm them." While this may sound like a noble sentiment, I have to wonder: why did he write Chosen But Free? Why did he choose to identify the faith of Reformed Baptist Churches, conservative Presbyterian Churches, and many others, as irrational and unbiblical? Are we to understand that he has the right to do this, but those of us at the pointed end of his sword must ignore his highly errant and flawed attacks upon our faith? I honestly do not understand the basis of such a statement.

One thing is beyond all doubt: this response proves, even more clearly than did the text of TPF, that Dr. Geisler has no response to Reformed scholarship.

In closing, I would like to ask Dr. Geisler to consider well the nature of this appendix. As I have said, I do not believe he wrote it. I believe someone else, perhaps even a group, cooperated in piecing together disparate and inconsistent comments on the text of the book. But whatever its provenance, it exists today as part of the 2nd edition of Chosen But Free, and the front of the book says "Norman Geisler." That places the above documented errors (a word that seems extremely weak to cover the kind of misrepresentations we have seen) squarely in his realm of responsibility. And hence I will say with all seriousness, "Dr. Geisler, do the right thing: pull this appendix, print a retraction, and simply do what is right." You do not attack any fellow believer with such terms as arrogant, over-zealous, pedantic, and prideful while utilizing this kind of utterly inane misrepresentation and argumentation as a shield. It is simply scholarly negligence. Unless Dr. Geisler can explain how this kind of material has some relevance to the actual topic at hand, it should be pulled from circulation with apologies to all concerned, but especially to his own readers. There simply is no other course to follow.

3. Thirdly, WHY would you want to debate me, a Southern Baptist? The Founders' issue is supposedly a SBC site, where the semi-Presbyterians want to revise our Anabaptist, free church and dissenter heritage. Perhaps you should debate someone in your own camp to stir up the interest you seek?

Asked and answered, sir. I am a professor at a Southern Baptist seminary. I speak at the Founder's events regularly. I am a Baptist. Let me be clear, Dr. Caner. In light of your willingness to even comment on my work from a position of utter ignorance (something I would NEVER do to anyone else, yourself included, nor have I!), I believe the only reason you are once again declining this challenge is that you know you cannot possibly engage this issue on the only basis upon which it can be decided: the inspired, inerrant text of God's Holy Word. You are neither unflinching nor unfailing when challenged by a Baptist who has a long history of defense of the faith against Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims, and the only possible reason is that you simply do not care enough about these issues to do your homework. Again, I had truly hoped for better from you, I truly did! I am dismayed and shocked at your attitude and your behavior.

4. And the typographical errors in Dr. Geisler's book hardly hold up to the theological ones in POTTER'S FREEDOM.

It would help if you would read what you are trying to comment on, sir. I have written:

One allegation of an error on the part of TPF that is almost humorous, and shows that the author(s) of the review seemed to be a bit desperate to find errors in my work, is found in the assertion that I mis-cited CBF. Here is the text:

For example, PF correctly notes that God's electing "in spite of" His foreknowledge could better be rendered "independent of" (PF, 67) and that "so dead" (PF, 104) is redundant. (Parenthetically, there are similar errors in PF. For instance, "world" should be "word" on 261 and 262, and PF mis­quotes my statement about "unlimited" atonement [CBF, 199], calling it "limited" atonement [PF, 248].)

The appendix is correct that "world" should be "word" on 261 and 262: the electronic version of Calvin I utilized does indeed contain a scan error at that point. However, the second allegation is most interesting, if for no other reason than to give insight into how things like this happen in publication work. The quotation of Dr. Geisler as it appears in TPF is perfectly accurate. The first publication of CBF contained his error at this point. I caught the error, and even contacted the editorial staff at BHP to see if they could offer an explanation for the statement. They could not. Seemingly unbeknownst to the author(s) of the appendix, anyway, CBF went through a second printing, and corrections were made at that time. Since I had raised the issue, it was "fixed." When the author(s), then, began looking for things to pick on in the text of TPF he unwittingly used the second printing, not the first (which is what TPF was based on). As a result, I am accused of mis-citing Geisler, when in fact, I cited him correctly, caught his error, pointed it out, and hence was helpful in correcting his own work! Yet, despite this, it is included in a rebuttal of my work. Such is surely ironic, if not a bit humorous.

5. Finally, issuing challenges, while certainly interesting, do not prove or disprove anything.

No one has said it does. However, when you put yourself forward in the context of your website as unflinching, unfailing, and fearless, you need to be able to live up to your own self-promotion. I am currently ministering in England and Scotland, and last evening I showed your website to a pastor friend who is traveling with me, and he said, "Goodness, that man thinks highly of himself, doesn't he?" I replied, "Well, if he lives up to his own promotion, that would be one thing. If he does not, then that is indeed bad." Your unwillingness to debate me, when I have proven not only my ability to engage in meaningful, fair, moderated, scholarly debate against a wide variety of opponents, but have likewise proven my bona fides as a thorough going Baptist over and over again, demonstrates that your claims for yourself are simply untrue. You have yet to provide a single meaningful reason to decline the challenge. You are clearly anti-Reformed in your teaching and preaching. If you are going to portray yourself as a Christian scholar who "without flinching" holds forth the truth, when challenged, you need to stand up and be counted. Currently, you are refusing to do so.

I have in fact read your books, and I continue to hold to the NON-5-pointer position in both exegesis, philosophy, church history and theology. They did nothing to dissuade myself, my brother, or anyothers in the Non-Calvinistic world.

Sir, I cannot count the number of former Arminians who have come to embrace and love the doctrines of grace due to TPF, so, you are simply in error once again. And if my arguments are so easily refuted, sir, a man of conviction who believes the doctrines of grace do damage to the truth would be quick to demonstrate these and engage the subject. You refuse to do so. Your actions betray your claims.

HOW can you say Dr. Geisler's arguments were debunked???

If you had actually read TPF and my other works, you would well know this, but allow me a single example: I wrote to Dr. Geisler while writing TPF and asked him why he had not provided any meaningful exegesis of the key text in John 6:35-45. He replied that he had provided a "full exegesis" in CBF. I invite you, Dr. Caner, to find that full exegesis. There is none. My chapter on Jesus' teaching Calvinism in Capernaum stands utterly unanswered by Geisler. If you say otherwise, sir, I challenge you to document your assertion.

By whom? Oh, that's right, by OTHER five-pointers like yourself. My goodness, how scholarship ever survived until the theocrat from Geneva arrived is beyond me. His thorough refutation of hyper-Calvinism and reprobation stands up quite nicely, whatever responses you offer.

Sir, your emotionally-based response only shows your incapacity to engage the subject on any other level. I am accustomed to this from laypeople, but it is simply beyond the level of amazement that one who claims a standing as a Baptist scholar would behave as you are behaving. Once again, please, please, do not engage in apologetic encounters if you carry this kind of disrespectful attitude into your work in other areas. Those of us who labor diligently to honor He who is the truth would very much appreciate it.

Feel free to maintain your position as a Calvinist.

I do so out of fidelity to the inspired Scriptures, and it is I, sir, who does so unflinchingly.

Others shall remain Armenian.

Sir, Armenians are so by birth. Armenian is a nationality, an ethnic group. The term is Arminian, after Jacob Arminius. Yes, many shall remain Arminian, but they do so out of devotion to philosophical tradition or blindness to biblical teaching only. And only one side is seemingly willing and able to defend that kind of statement in the presence of the other. We seek dialogue and debate before the people of God based upon the Word of God. You seek monologue and diatribe. Let God judge.

I shall choose neither- I am a Baptist.

This is, of course, a category error. It is not a logical or rational statement. History proves there have been divisions amongst Baptists on this issue from the beginning. Baptist is not a category that determines one's viewpoint in the preceding two. It is about as logical as saying, "I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I'm blue." And it is this very kind of muddled thinking that gets cleared up very, very quickly during the cross-examination period of a scholarly debate.

I assume I am predestined to do so.

No sir, you are not given access to God's eternal will. Christ was predestined to die at the hands of Pontius Pilate, Herod, the Jews and the Romans (Acts 4:27-28), but each and every one involved were likewise held accountable for their actions. The same is true regarding Joseph's brothers in Genesis 50:20. Once again, passages that I know if I were in your position I would not want to have to deal with before your students. But always remember, sir, I am willing to appear before those students to proclaim the sovereign perfection of the work of Christ in defense of your insertion of human autonomy of will. You are unwilling to defend your comments.


Whosoever will:

No man is able, unless God the Father draws...I can explain both, you hold to one.

You honestly remind me of those Muslims who stick to the Meccan materials and ignore the Medinan just for their own benefit--who pick and choose what they will cite from Sahih Al-Bukhari while ignoring the rest. How sad. I would think you would have learned.

James>>>

Dr White:

Your response PROVES my point. I have debated over 60 times, against Muslims, Hindus, etc. Meanwhile, you are obsessed with just ONE aberration in Church History. Attempting to justify this, and attempting to make hyperCalvinism the standard of all Church History is the VERY DEFINITION of Hyper-Calvinism! Like the Synod of Dort, you have made "predestination the head of all doctrine."

Dr. White, why do you think Drs Geisler and White will not debate you? They are men who have debated around the world. WHY?

1. Because regardless of their reasoned and exegetical answers, YOU claim that they did not answer your charges.

2. Because regardless how the debate goes, you still claim victory.

3. Because, in short, like all of your stripe, Dr. White, you are obsessed with ONE view of ONE doctrine. One interpretation, that you have chosen to be your filter for all experience and thought.

Read Dr. Geisler's answers again. It is clear he answered. YOUR critique never addressed his book at all. As he said, he wondered if you had even read CHOSEN.

I respectfully ask you to find another topic.

emc

On 2/21/06, Ergun Caner <ergun@erguncaner.com> wrote:

Dr White:

Your response PROVES my point. I have debated over 60 times, against Muslims, Hindus, etc.


Where might I obtain the recordings of these moderated, public debates? Have you debated Jamal Badawi or Shabir Ally, I wonder? I ask quite seriously as I would like to hear them if you have as part of my own preparation. Further, if you have done this so often and against people who are obviously not Southern Baptists, why do you insist I have to be a Southern Baptist to debate me?

Meanwhile, you are obsessed with just ONE aberration in Church History.

This is a false statement, one that any reference to the sources provided to you would demonstrate. How can I be said to be obsessed with "ONE" alleged "aberration" when I am debating Shabir Ally at Biola in a matter of weeks, John Shelby Spong on homosexuality in November in Orlando, and even my brother Bill Shishko on paedobaptism in October? I have written twice as many books as you have, and the vast majority of them are not even on this one topic (again demonstrating you truly have not been honest in your representation of your reading of my works). The lack of foundation of your statements continues to be quite troubling. Your website describes you as the "intellectual pit bull of the evangelical world." If that is the case, why do you make such easily refuted statements with such amazing rapidity and consistency?

Attempting to justify this, and attempting to make hyperCalvinism the standard of all Church History is the VERY DEFINITION of Hyper-Calvinism! Like the Synod of Dort, you have made "predestination the head of all doctrine."

At this point, if you had scholarship on your side, you would back up your statements. You would prove you have read my books by citing from them. You do not. You cannot, because, of course, I am not a hyper Calvinist, and have repudiated hyper Calvinism and even written against it. You do not know what it is, cannot define it, but continue to pretend to possess knowledge and training you do not. This is an amazing display, Dr. Caner, but one I have become accustomed to from those who oppose the free grace of God because of their dedication to a tradition.

Dr. White, why do you think Drs Geisler and White will not debate you? They are men who have debated around the world. WHY?

I believe you mean Dave Hunt, and the reasons are clear. More than two dozen leading scholars endorsed my book in response to Dr. Geisler. He is a philosopher, not an exegete, and I believe he knows he would not fair well in a debate format. Dave Hunt will not debate because he knows I can document literally dozens of embarrassing errors on his part, even quoting from the Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation to try to get around Acts 13:48! He cannot engage the text on any meaningful level, and knows such a debate would be utterly self-destructive.

1. Because regardless of their reasoned and exegetical answers, YOU claim that they did not answer your charges.

Sir, I sent you numerous pages of documentation. Where is your response? Where is Geisler's response? Where is Hunt's response? Can you show me, sir? If you cannot, does this not answer, for any rational person whose mind is not completely prejudiced, your objection? I look forward to your full response to my refutation of Geisler and the full and accurate documentation it provides. Absent that, you have been refuted, have you not?

2. Because regardless how the debate goes, you still claim victory.

I have claimed their rebuttals failed, sir. You are the one claiming victory for men who to this day have refused to defend their position. You are the one claiming victory without showing the first bit of scholarly acumen by providing any citations to back up your claims. Please, sir, you truly need to back up, take a deep breath, and realize what an utter melt-down on the level of simple scholarly behavior you are presenting here. It is egregious, is it not, to treat someone the way you are, by refusing to acknowledge the most simple facts when they are presented to you?

3. Because, in short, like all of your stripe, Dr. White, you are obsessed with ONE view of ONE doctrine. One interpretation, that you have chosen to be your filter for all experience and thought.

This is another falsehood, one that no rationally minded person could repeat in light of the evidence you claim to have examined. Over the course of the past two weeks here in the UK I have taught at the London Seminary on the canon (2 sessions) and once on John 6. I have twice ministered on the topic of assurance. I have preached in London, Glasgow, and Inverness, on a wide variety of topics, including scriptural authority, the centrality of preaching, the salvation of the publican, New Perspectivism, sola scriptura, Islam, John 9, the Carmen Christi, apologetics in a godless age, and tonight I speak on the Da Vinci Code and responding to the new film The God Who Wasn't There. One session out of sixteen on the specific topic of "Calvinism," and it was a particularly exegetical session at the London Seminary. So, sir, if you repeat this falsehood that I am obsessed with ONE view of ONE doctrine, you do so against all evidence to the contrary, and hence, engage in lying about a fellow believer in Christ. I hope and pray you will not do so. God takes that kind of activity very seriously.

Read Dr. Geisler's answers again. It is clear he answered. YOUR critique never addressed his book at all. As he said, he wondered if you had even read CHOSEN.

Excuse me, sir, but I sent you the entire response. I quoted frequently from the book. How can any honest person make the statement you just did? My book, The Potter's Freedom, clearly and accurately addressed Dr. Geisler's book. His response miserably misrepresented mine, and my response to him was again fully accurate. If you say otherwise, simple honesty demands that you document your accusations or withdraw them.

I respectfully ask you to find another topic.

Find another topic, sir? For what? Which of the current many topics I have spoken on, lectured on, and written on, should I switch to?

Dr. Caner, I ask that you step back and seriously consider the falsehoods you are currently repeating in your e-mails to me. You have no basis for making the false statements you have, and I ask you, as an elder in the church of our Lord Jesus Christ that you obey the Word of God (1 Timothy 5:19), which instructs you not to make unfounded accusations against those in such a position, to repent and reconsider your words. I would like to believe you have simply become caught up in emotion, and that upon reflection you will realize that you cannot simply lie about people without having the temerity and honesty to back up what you are saying with sound reasoning and meaningful citations.

I continue to stand ready to engage you in a biblically based debate on the doctrines of grace, wherein I would demonstrate that your commitment to libertarianism and your denial of the clear teachings of Scripture flow from tradition and not from the Word of God. I also stand ready to accept your apology for ignoring all of the relevant information and ignoring the honest attempt I have made to get you to honestly deal with this issue to the benefit of the entire Body of Christ.

James>>>

Dear Dr White:

Well, one one point, I shall readily apologize. The only debate context I have heard regarding you was the Calvinism one. Since you debate on other topics, I do apologize.

HOWEVER, that said, Dr. White, I am reaching the end of my patience.

1. You continually call for debate. Again, having read both your books and the books of Drs. Geisler and Hunt, I read you calling them flaw-filled and laughable.

2. From your purported answers to them, I again state that we must be reading different books, or else we are completely talking in different languages. As I travel the breadth of this nation, I have never met ONE person who felt you had the victory against either man.

3. In fact, most make the point I restate- it is almost impossible to debate you, since you clearly cannot be objective on the topic. You claim victory where there is none. You state that neither Dr. Geisler nor Dr Hunt have answered your charges when they have clearly taken you to task. You filter every single argument through the reformed prism, almost to the point that it seems you presuppose that defending Calvinism is in fact defending the Gospel itself.

4. Dr. White, modern 5-point Calvinism is NOT the Gospel itself. It was/is the system of one man (Calvin) modified into a Scholastic fatalism by another (Beza). It is ONE position, with which I, and all the other "whosoever wills" vehemently disagree.

5. If you continually lose these luterary debates, subsequently claiming victory and ignoring clear answers, what POSSIBLE reason would I have to believe that you would somehow do otherwise in our debate? Even your letters show the same pattern. I answer your question. You write, stating I have not. You call my statements "false." You do not refute them, you simply call them spurious.

6. Dr. White- look around. The evangelical world as a whole rejects fatalistic predeterminism. Geisler. Hunt. Patterson. LaHaye. Virtually every seminary among the Baptists. Goodness, even men such as Drs. Mohler and Akin are distancing themselves from the Founder's Movement. Ask them if they want to be identified as the "reformed" schools of the SBC.

7. On the other side, Drs. Patterson, Kelley, and Roberts are leading the rest of us in purging our schools of such teachings as the deletion of invitations, the Baptist use of elders as an oligarchy, and in some cases, the advocation of pedobaptism (Piper's attempt in 2005).

8. I do admit your movement has "legs." You do garner followers. However, I state emphatically, they have no place at Liberty Seminary, and never shall. Out of the top 100 baptising churches in the SBC, how many hold your position?

Thus, the only debate I would enter with you would be a literary one. I have no problem, using the lasting ink, in debating you, as I have Nadir Ahmed, through our websites. Like the Muslim debates, it forces both participants to actually keep on topic.

You speak of the insolence with which you have been treated. Dr White, it is precisely this point I want to drive home. I have NEVER met a movement so arrogant and self-obsessed as the Calvinists (5-points). With an almost cultlike droning, Calvinists proclaim that they are rescuing the Gospel from those who obviously do not know or understand the arguments, or worse, the Scriptures. We know your arguments. We read your conclusions. We hear your points.

We reject them. Christ died for the world. He did not die just for a boy's club who believe they and their children are on the inside. I shall always stand for the "all the world," and the "whosoevers." That is biblical exposition. That is biblical exegesis. That is church history.

So, continue as you wish. I shall do the same. You will not go away, and neither shall we. Any doctrine that drains a Christian's hunger to see souls saved is not of God. If you believe your form of Calvinism does not do so, then God bless all you do.

ergun mehmet caner

Well, one one point, I shall readily apologize. The only debate context I have heard regarding you was the Calvinism one. Since you debate on other topics, I do apologize.

Brother, this is what has amazed me about our exchange. You clearly know nothing about me. You have not read my books...books such as The Forgotten Trinity , a biblical defense of the Tri-une God, or The God Who Justifies, written in defense of justification by grace through faith alone, or Scripture Alone , my defense of sola scriptura, or The Roman Catholic Controfersy, The King James Only Controversy, etc. and etc. Further, I mentioned debating Islamic apologists like Shabir Ally in the first note I sent to you, did I not? May I ask if you have even read the entirety of the text I have sent you? Is it possible, Dr. Caner, that you have so completely dismissed "Calvinists" that you do not even extend to them the courtesy you would to a Muslim or an atheist?

HOWEVER, that said, Dr. White, I am reaching the end of my patience.

Thanks be to the Lord, I have not. :-)

1. You continually call for debate. Again, having read both your books and the books of Drs. Geisler and Hunt, I read you calling them flaw-filled and laughable.

And I have yet to have you do anything other than say that. May I ask you to provide even the first bit of argumentation? Here, let me make it easy:

1) Please explain how you deal with my comments on Acts 13:48 and the syntactical meaning of the periphrastic construction found there. Neither Geisler nor Hunt touched it. They could not do so (Hunt is not a scholar nor can he read Greek, and Geisler ignored it in his response). Can you refute my "laughable" exegesis? Can you deal with the meaning of tetagmenoi?

2) Can you explain why you insert a distinction between the two accusative singular uses of auton in John 6:44 exegetically? Can you demonstrate what is "laughable" in my single chapter on John 6, since neither Geisler nor Hunt were capable of doing so?

2. From your purported answers to them, I again state that we must be reading different books, or else we are completely talking in different languages. As I travel the breadth of this nation, I have never met ONE person who felt you had the victory against either man.

And I have never found one who viewed it as you. In fact, as one published author put it, my debate book with Dave Hunt may have been "the most lopsided debate in church history." And sir, if you are correct, why would especially Dave Hunt refuse to debate? It would be a wonderfully useful thing to have to demonstrate that we Calvinists are only capable of offering "laughable" exegesis. I also wonder, sir, since you did not even know I am a wide-ranging apologist, how often you have engaged in a discussion of this topic so as to be able to have any kind of meaningful spectrum of people who have commented on my works?

3. In fact, most make the point I restate- it is almost impossible to debate you, since you clearly cannot be objective on the topic.

Since you have never listened to any debate I have done on the topic, sir, might I suggest you are not in any position to judge here? I have debated George Bryson on this topic; I did three hours on the Bible Answer Man Broadcast on the topic. Have you listened to these debates? And sir, are you seriously claiming "objectivity" for yourself? One thing is for certain, I am capable of being far more accurate, and far more objective, in my representation of your position than you are of mine.

You claim victory where there is none. You state that neither Dr. Geisler nor Dr Hunt have answered your charges when they have clearly taken you to task. You filter every single argument through the reformed prism, almost to the point that it seems you presuppose that defending Calvinism is in fact defending the Gospel itself.

Sir, asked and answered. Documentation given to you, nothing in response from you. Anyone who would read this exchange could see that one of us offers facts, one unfounded, second-hand opinions.

Yessir, I believe the gospel involves God's soveriegnty; I believe it includes the deadness of man in sin; I believe it includes the perfect of Christ as Savior, and the perfection of His work as substitute. And I can defend that exegetically and biblically before your own students at your own leisure. :-) But be sure you admit, sir, that you believe the gospel includes the liberty of the human will and the negation of all I said above. You believe you are defending the gospel itself, do you not?

4. Dr. White, modern 5-point Calvinism is NOT the Gospel itself. It was/is the system of one man (Calvin) modified into a Scholastic fatalism by another (Beza). It is ONE position, with which I, and all the other "whosoever wills" vehemently disagree.

Obviously that is your belief. I can demonstrate you are in error in public debate. I can take you to the text of Scripture and show you that you cannot start at John 6:35 and get to John 6:45 without abandoning the text and engaging in eisegesis. In fact, since you below say you would be willing to engage in written debate, I would challenge you to engage that very text in exegetical debate. My blog has a very, very wide audience, and you would post it as well on your website, just as I would on mine. Despite how busy I am over the next year, with trips back here to London, Biola, teaching, a book to write, Orlando and the debate with Spong, etc., I would be happy to engage the text in written debate in defense of this truth.

5. If you continually lose these luterary debates, subsequently claiming victory and ignoring clear answers, what POSSIBLE reason would I have to believe that you would somehow do otherwise in our debate? Even your letters show the same pattern. I answer your question. You write, stating I have not. You call my statements "false." You do not refute them, you simply call them spurious.

Sir, I would submit our interaction to any semi-unbiased person in full confidence that they would conclude that one of us has offered extensive and reasoned argumentation and one has done everything in his power to avoid the subject, obfuscate, and in essence engage in the most irrational form of dialogue possible. The fact is you have not responded to my documentation of the errors in Geisler's work. Not once. You just repeat the same mantra over and over again without backing up your statements. Same with Hunt. I do not have to do that. I can back up everything I say.

Further, if you had the slightest idea who I am and what I do, you would know that I leave it to the listeners/observers to determine who "won" a debate. You are the one who claimed I lost---despite your ignorance of my work. I, sir, have shown you a thousand times the respect you have shown me, that much is certain.

6. Dr. White- look around. The evangelical world as a whole rejects fatalistic predeterminism. Geisler. Hunt. Patterson. LaHaye. Virtually every seminary among the Baptists. Goodness, even men such as Drs. Mohler and Akin are distancing themselves from the Founder's Movement. Ask them if they want to be identified as the "reformed" schools of the SBC.

I'm sorry, sir, but the state of "evangelicalism" in our day is tremendously sad, and tremendously shallow, and I, for one, do not determine theological and exegetical truth by popularity contests. If I did, the names you just listed would not hold a candle to the likes of Bunyan, Spurgeon, Edwards, or Warfield, I assure you of that!

7. On the other side, Drs. Patterson, Kelley, and Roberts are leading the rest of us in purging our schools of such teachings as the deletion of invitations, the Baptist use of elders as an oligarchy, and in some cases, the advocation of pedobaptism (Piper's attempt in 2005).

That would be "paedobaptism," sir. I would challenge you to attempt to interact with my defense of the plurality of elders in the Broadman/Holman work on church polity published a few years ago.

8. I do admit your movement has "legs." You do garner followers. However, I state emphatically, they have no place at Liberty Seminary, and never shall. Out of the top 100 baptising churches in the SBC, how many hold your position?

A tremendously deep argument, sir. In the absence of exegesis, cite numbers! Just do not look too closely at them! You might find what I have found: multiple baptisms of the same person, often two or three times in their lives; and, sadly, the fact that many of those churches have to baptize many dozens to get a single person who shows the slightest evidence of the Spirit of God in their lives as little as a year later, let alone a decade. How very, very sad.

Thus, the only debate I would enter with you would be a literary one. I have no problem, using the lasting ink, in debating you, as I have Nadir Ahmed, through our websites. Like the Muslim debates, it forces both participants to actually keep on topic.

Nadir Ahmed could not stay on a single topic if is life depended on it, Ergun, nor could he engage any meaningful topic without generous uses of ad hominem and irrational argumentation, and we both know it. :-) Be that as it may, that is fine. I am confident any exegetical debate focused upon the text of Scripture will thoroughly verify what I have said in our exchange thus far today.

You speak of the insolence with which you have been treated. Dr White, it is precisely this point I want to drive home. I have NEVER met a movement so arrogant and self-obsessed as the Calvinists (5-points). With an almost cultlike droning, Calvinists proclaim that they are rescuing the Gospel from those who obviously do not know or understand the arguments, or worse, the Scriptures. We know your arguments. We read your conclusions. We hear your points.

Sir, I do not waste time discussing my personal feelings about "the other side." They are only marginally relevant to the issue, and then only after a strong exegetical foundation has been established. You do NOT understand the position you are attacking, that much is certain, and any debate with cross-examination will, in fact, prove this completely---at least to any rationally minded person with ears to hear.

We reject them. Christ died for the world. He did not die just for a boy's club who believe they and their children are on the inside. I shall always stand for the "all the world," and the "whosoevers." That is biblical exposition. That is biblical exegesis. That is church history.

Christ died for men from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, and he PERFECTED those for whom He died (Hebrews 10:10-14). I do not know why you have to speak as you do (is it that your arguments require the use of emotion?), but I again will focus upon the person who is actually looking for truth. As for church history---I have no idea what you mean, since, as I pointed out to Dave Hunt when we first discussed this issue, he agrees fully with Rome on the will of man and the nature of grace over *against* the Reformers, as, it seems, you may as well. So, if you are confessing your historical connection to Roman Catholicism historically, I would agree. But I sort of doubt that is, in fact, what you are claiming.

So, continue as you wish. I shall do the same. You will not go away, and neither shall we. Any doctrine that drains a Christian's hunger to see souls saved is not of God. If you believe your form of Calvinism does not do so, then God bless all you do.

My belief that God's power to save is not limited to man's willingness to "cooperate" is what has taken me to many places Arminians will never tread, Dr. Caner.

So, I would propose the following:

Resolved: John 6:35-45 Teaches God Saves an Elect People Perfectly in Christ

Opening Exegesis should begin the debate, where both of us, concurrently, offer a full-on, fresh, exegesis of the text of John 6:35-45. What do you say, Dr. Caner? Shall we engage the text of inspired Scripture and listen to Jesus' words in the Synagogue at Capernaum? I stand read.

BTW: please note: I am in London and will be returning home tomorrow afternoon. I should be able to respond to e-mails tomorrow morning your time, but after that, I have a fourteen+ hour journey home.

James>>>

Dr. White:

One final note:

YOU WROTE THE FOLLOWING. FOR CLARITY, MY RESPONSES SHALL BE IN ALL CAPITALS, TO AVOID CONFUSION:

"Excuse me, sir, but I sent you the entire response. I quoted frequently
from the book. How can any honest person make the statement you just did?
My book, The Potter's Freedom, clearly and accurately addressed Dr.
Geisler's book. His response miserably misrepresented mine, and my response
to him was again fully accurate. If you say otherwise, simple honesty
demands that you document your accusations or withdraw them."

HE DID NOT MISREPRESENT YOUR POSITION. HE ANSWERED YOUR CHARGES. JUST BECAUSE YOU DID NOT LIKE, OR DISAGREED WITH HIS ANSWER DOES NOT MEAN HE DID NOT ANSWER THEM. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE MILLIONS OF US WHO AGREE WITH DR. GEISLER ARE JUST IGNORANT?

I respectfully ask you to find another topic.

Find another topic, sir? For what? Which of the current many topics I have
spoken on, lectured on, and written on, should I switch to?

Dr. Caner, I ask that you step back and seriously consider the falsehoods
you are currently repeating in your e-mails to me. You have no basis for
making the false statements you have, and I ask you, as an elder in the
church of our Lord Jesus Christ that you obey the Word of God (1 Timothy
5:19), which instructs you not to make unfounded accusations against those
in such a position, to repent and reconsider your words. I would like to
believe you have simply become caught up in emotion, and that upon
reflection you will realize that you cannot simply lie about people without
having the temerity and honesty to back up what you are saying with sound
reasoning and meaningful citations.

CAUGHT UP? SIR, I ASK YOU TO RECONSIDER YOUR WORDS AS WELL. YOU SEEM TO BE ADJUDICATING MOTIVE. DO NOT CITE THE VERY SCRIPTURES YOU BETRAY.

I continue to stand ready to engage you in a biblically based debate on the
doctrines of grace, wherein I would demonstrate that your commitment to
libertarianism and your denial of the clear teachings of Scripture flow from
tradition and not from the Word of God. I also stand ready to accept your
apology for ignoring all of the relevant information and ignoring the honest
attempt I have made to get you to honestly deal with this issue to the
benefit of the entire Body of Christ.

MY APOLOGY, IF I OFFER ANY, IS IN ENTERING INTO THIS FRAY IN THE FIRST PLACE. YOU CLAIM TO WANT TO DEBATE THE "CLEAR TEACHINGS OF SCRIPTURE," YET YOU IGNORE EVERY CITATION TO CHRIST DYING FOR THE WORLD. YOU READ EVERY TEXT THROUGH THE PRISM OF A SCHOLASTIC MOVEMENT AND ARROGANTLY PRESUME THAT THOSE WHO DISAGREE WITH YOU HAVE OBVIOUSLY NOT "RESOLVED" THE ANTINOMY AS YOU HAVE.

DRS. GEISLER AND HUNT HAVE ANSWERED YOU QUITE WELL.
IF YOU DISAGREE, THAT IS YOUR RIGHT.
WE SHALL SEE THE FRUITS OF BOTH MOVEMENTS, AND LEAVE IT TO GOD.

AND YOU WONDER WHY WE STAND AGAINST YOUR MOVEMENT SO LOUDLY.

I DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR MY ANSWERS- I DID CITE THE REVELANT. YOU JUST DIDN'T LIKE MY ANSWERS.

ergun caner

HE DID NOT MISREPRESENT YOUR POSITION. HE ANSWERED YOUR CHARGES. JUST BECAUSE YOU DID NOT LIKE, OR DISAGREED WITH HIS ANSWER DOES NOT MEAN HE DID NOT ANSWER THEM. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE MILLIONS OF US WHO AGREE WITH DR. GEISLER ARE JUST IGNORANT?

Sir, since you have yet to read my response, yes, you are ignorant. When you read it, and quote from it, and disprove it, we will have a reason to continue on the topic. Till then, you are simply embarrassing yourself defending the indefensible.

Dr. Caner, I ask that you step back and seriously consider the falsehoods
you are currently repeating in your e-mails to me. You have no basis for
making the false statements you have, and I ask you, as an elder in the
church of our Lord Jesus Christ that you obey the Word of God (1 Timothy
5:19), which instructs you not to make unfounded accusations against those
in such a position, to repent and reconsider your words. I would like to
believe you have simply become caught up in emotion, and that upon
reflection you will realize that you cannot simply lie about people without
having the temerity and honesty to back up what you are saying with sound
reasoning and meaningful citations.

CAUGHT UP? SIR, I ASK YOU TO RECONSIDER YOUR WORDS AS WELL. YOU SEEM TO BE ADJUDICATING MOTIVE. DO NOT CITE THE VERY SCRIPTURES YOU BETRAY.


Sir, that is not a response, is it? Again, any semi-unbiased observer would know that one of us has provided cogent documentation and argumentation, and one has not. If you are going to accuse me of betraying the Scriptures, don't you think after four or five e-mails it is time to start PROVING YOUR POINTS with something more than just your ipse dixit? I am truly amazed!

I continue to stand ready to engage you in a biblically based debate on the
doctrines of grace, wherein I would demonstrate that your commitment to
libertarianism and your denial of the clear teachings of Scripture flow from
tradition and not from the Word of God. I also stand ready to accept your
apology for ignoring all of the relevant information and ignoring the honest
attempt I have made to get you to honestly deal with this issue to the
benefit of the entire Body of Christ.

MY APOLOGY, IF I OFFER ANY, IS IN ENTERING INTO THIS FRAY IN THE FIRST PLACE.


Which would be irrelevant to the disrespect and misrepresentation that has filled your correspondence thus far, Dr. Caner. :-)

YOU CLAIM TO WANT TO DEBATE THE "CLEAR TEACHINGS OF SCRIPTURE," YET YOU IGNORE EVERY CITATION TO CHRIST DYING FOR THE WORLD.

This is again a gross untruth. I ignore nothing. I ask you to provide refutation of my extensive discussions of these passages in TPF...discussions Geisler never touched, and Hunt could not understand. If you cannot, you prove my point. If you will not, you do again. You claim to have read my books: I say you have not. If you are a scholar and honor truth, you will provide a meaningful, fair, balanced rebuttal. If you are not, you will ignore this request, as you have ignored so much of what I have written to you today. I leave it to you.

YOU READ EVERY TEXT THROUGH THE PRISM OF A SCHOLASTIC MOVEMENT AND ARROGANTLY PRESUME THAT THOSE WHO DISAGREE WITH YOU HAVE OBVIOUSLY NOT "RESOLVED" THE ANTINOMY AS YOU HAVE.

Please document this charge from my writings. Thank you. Full citations, please. :-)

DRS. GEISLER AND HUNT HAVE ANSWERED YOU QUITE WELL.
IF YOU DISAGREE, THAT IS YOUR RIGHT.
WE SHALL SEE THE FRUITS OF BOTH MOVEMENTS, AND LEAVE IT TO GOD.


Dr. Geisler wrote 13 refuted pages that did not touch 99% of my book. No rational person could say what you are saying. Hunt dodged almost every exegetical question presented to him. Both refuse to respond to anything said to them today. Like you, they make claims, but cannot back them up with documentation and reasoned, fair argumentation. You are surely in their camp as your behavior has shown. I can only hope that if you attempt to deal with John 6, as I have invited you to, you will be able to stick to an exegetical subject without engaging in this kind of rhetoric.

AND YOU WONDER WHY WE STAND AGAINST YOUR MOVEMENT SO LOUDLY.

Yes sir, I wonder how any person could read our exchanges today and stand against anything, actually.

I DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR MY ANSWERS- I DID CITE THE REVELANT. YOU JUST DIDN'T LIKE MY ANSWERS.

Sir, you have not cited my works. Period. If you say you have, document your claim. Thank you.

James>>>

OK, we are done.

Ignorant? Spelling corrections of PEDObaptism, when even MS Word allows for the non-Latinized?

That type of answer would be the equivalent of my drawing attention to non-accredited degrees. Futile. It is apparent that we do not even speak the same language.

We are done.

On 2/21/06, Ergun Caner <ergun@erguncaner.com> wrote:

OK, we are done.

Ignorant? Spelling corrections of PEDObaptism, when even MS Word allows for the non-Latinized?

That type of answer would be the equivalent of my drawing attention to non-accredited degrees. Futile. It is apparent that we do not even speak the same language.

We are done.


Sir, you seem to be seeking any reason to avoid facing serious interaction. I am leaving to preach now here in London. I will blog tomorrow about my challenge to you to debate in writing the subject of John 6. I hope you will step up to the challenge.

James>>>

Now THAT is funny.

Blog away. Including e-mail correspondence would seem to be in keeping with the general tone of your "logic?"

I am more than happy to excerpt every argument Geisler and Hunt used. We can talk in circles all day. More than happy to do it.

I have a number of topics I am more than happy to discuss, and shall say so. You will NOT pick the subject and "run the show." YOUR exegesis of John 6 may not hold up to 2 Peter 3:9.

We shall see

I must go- it is amazing how many elect one finds when we go door-to-door.

emc

I am more than happy to excerpt every argument Geisler and Hunt used. We can talk in circles all day. More than happy to do it.

If that is all you can do, sir (excerpt already refuted arguments), that is fine. I am only concerned about those seeking truth. I have seen so many who, upon reading both sides of the subject, have been amazed at the lack of depth and consistency in Arminian exegesis. Others, lovers of tradition, do not even notice it. I cannot determine who will have a love of truth and who will have a love of tradition. I leave that to God.

I have a number of topics I am more than happy to discuss, and shall say so. You will NOT pick the subject and "run the show." YOUR exegesis of John 6 may not hold up to 2 Peter 3:9.

If you wish to start with a passage about the second coming of Christ rather than one on the topic of the work of the Father and Son in saving perfectly, that's your choice: but it speaks volumes to what I have been saying all along. :-)

James>>>