Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Tim Guthrie of Winning Truth Ministries Writes to Me
05/24/2006 - James WhiteThe following came through our website:
I just completed reading your email exchange with the Caners. I am floored by your lack of understanding of the proposed Thesis. Could it be that you are so caught up in your own intellectualism that you miss the simplicity of the Thesis. I had my 13 yr old look at it and he got it right without any coaching or assistance. You guys can only hope that your ingnorance does not get out to the general community. I know why the Caners did not answer your question about their view of your salvation - it was a trap thrown down, waiting to attack them - which you did even with a NO ANSWER. You guys are unbelievable. What is really sad, is that I was enjoying your material until I read your email exchange and saw the purposeful attempts by you and Tom to change the subject, trap the Caners, and claim your superior intellectual gifts and appraoches. You guys are George Pattons - only you are on the losing side of this one on all fronts! P.S. Why would God create anyone destined for or pre-chosen for hell. Would that not be a violation of the biblical principle of making the most of your time and doing all to the Glory of God? Get a grip guys - this stuff is crazy!!!!!!!!!
Greetings, Tim. Thanks for taking the time to read the correspondence. Most folks came away from it with a very, very different take than you did. I find that somewhat interesting.
Since your thirteen year old can understand the proposed thesis statement, could you please have him/her, or yourself, if he/she is too busy now that school is out, answer all the questions I have asked about it so that I can join him/her in understanding it? I would especially be interested in the grammatical and syntactical issues I raised, and even more so, just how he/she is able to determine that a unitarian universalist would not be able to defend this thesis while the Caners can. I look forward to his/her explanation.
I'm afraid our "ingnorance" is already out there for all to see, Tim! I mean, I posted the correspondence myself. But as I noted above, you are in a small minority who has read the material the way you did.
I must congratulate you on seeing through our Calvinist trap! Tom and I worked into the wee small hours of the morning on that one, carefully crafting it. You can't imagine how hard it is to come up with these things. I mean, think about it: I have to somehow craftily guide the Caners into never calling me "brother," never referring to me in any fashion at all that would lead one to believe I am a Christian. Then, I have to repeatedly refer to them as fellow Christians. Then I have to get them to not only treat me like an unbeliever, but then I have to somehow dazzle them so that when I ask a simple question of them, they go silent for three weeks (that was the tough part of the plot). Yes indeed, but you have seen through all that hard work! I guess anyone who can figure out that thesis is way ahead in seeing through all of our best planned traps!
Yes, I live my life looking for opportunities to attack the Caners, Tim. I don't know what I did with my life those first few decades, but then, one day, it hit me! True fulfillment will be found in attacking the Caner brothers! And I've been at it ever since. Well, till now. You've seen through me, and I'm sure you will let them know, so...!
Now, what is more, you've managed to discover our "change the subject" ruse, which has been so completely effective until now. I mean, most folks, when they read the correspondence, find the Caners raising all sorts of issues, but when refuted or shown their logical errors, ignoring the replies or changing the subject. But not you! No, you have seen through those repeated efforts to get the Caners to respond to meaningful questions! There is no fooling you. That kind of thing is a trap! Yes indeed.
Now, your last question---is that a trap? I mean, it looks like an innocent question, but, as we have now learned, questions can often be traps! What makes it look like a trap to me is...well, the fact that it shows you have never listened to anything I've ever said on this subject, read any of my relevant books, etc. How many times have I said election is always unto life, not unto death? How many times have I pointed out that God has to exercise grace to elect someone unto salvation, but He does not have to expend any energy at all to justly condemn those in Adam? How many times have I pointed out that the only really consistent position from which a question like yours could be asked would be one of Open Theism (are you, perhaps, an Open Theist?)? So, is this a trap, perhaps? Or are you seriously suggesting that the precept "make the most of your time" is somehow relevant to God's eternal decree regarding His self-glorification and the eternal covenant of redemption?
Caner Correspondence File
05/16/2006 - James WhiteWell, many thanks to C.S. and T.S. for taking that mess of a correspondence file and typesetting it in PDF format. For those who have struggled to read it, you can now have the entire file in gorgeous PDF format with fully readable fonts and formatting that makes it very clear who is saying what. Click here for the file.
And don't forget, Tom Ascol is joining me this morning for the Dividing Line. We will be taking your calls, first discussing the Pulpit Crimes conference and then transitioning, rather naturally, I would say, into the subject of the October 16th debate and the issues that have come up in trying to make this event happen.
Finally, a huge string of comments have been posted on Tom Ascol's blog concerning the Caner situation (found here). As of this posting there are 105 comments. Part of the discussion has been the charge that it was inappropriate for me to post the correspondence, as if Christian leaders are to hide behind the cloak of "privacy" so as to shroud their behavior, actions, words, and motivations. I have posted twice in the comments thread on this very issue, for those interested. Also, Tom announced this morning that he will be on the DL and will be seeking to spread the message of the Mac Cult to the benighted PC world. Sadly, this entry almost immediately generated 26 comments. The Mac Cult is almost as avid in its promulgation of its cultic beliefs as the Mormons! Of course, some of those comments were from centuri0n, hence, they really don't count as they don't really mean anything (though I'm sure you can get a t-shirt with his picture on it displayed on a Mac screen) and also from a Gordon Conwell student who, as part of his slide into liberal apostasy, has likewise converted to Mac. And so we may not get to the Caner situation since Mac-ists tend to be sort of...focused on their crusade. We will see! :-)
Let the People of God Judge
05/15/2006 - James WhiteLet me summarize quickly. I will expand upon this on The Dividing Line Tuesday morning when I am joined by Dr. Tom Ascol.
1) I have posted the entirety of the correspondence between myself, Tom Ascol, Ergun Caner, and Emir Caner, that has been written since March on the topic of our debate October 16th. I believe the people of God need to be able to see who has been trying tirelessly to arrange a meaningful debate and who has been doing everything they can to avoid that very thing. Here is the file. (The file is in pdf format: if you can't read pdf, here is the html file, but the html file is not pretty, and is much less readable than the pdf. The pdf is 39 pages long, the html around 54). In many ways, it speaks for itself.
2) The Caners believe I am a non-Christian heretic. They refuse to refer to me as a fellow believer. This tells you all you need to know about their viewpoints of Calvinism.
3) The Caners refuse to allow for a three hour debate, though they could do so, and have admitted as much. They wanted only two hours, and compromised on a mere 2.5 hours. Ask them.
4) The Caners have been all over the map on format. Right now they want some form of Parliamentary debate format. What they do not want, in any way, shape, or form, is a debate long enough, and formatted enough, to where they would have to actually engage in meaningful textually-based cross-examination on the key biblical passages that contradict their position.
5) The Caners are insisting upon using a thesis statement that has no meaning. It is not even written in proper English. It could be used and defended by a Unitarian Universalist. They refuse to use a thesis statement I have proposed that is clear and unambiguous. Here is their proposed thesis:
Resolved: That God is an Omnibenevolent God to all of humanity through salvation and opportunity.
Here is my proposed thesis:
God Seeks to Save Every Person Equally and Without Distinction
The fact is the Caners are doing all they can to make sure to protect themselves from serious interaction and examination in this "debate." I believe they are seeking to be so disrespectful and uncooperative that Dr. Ascol and I will simply give up the attempt and let them off the hook. I provide the entirety of the correspondence so that once again, as in the previous exchange between myself and Ergun Caner, the people of God can see the vast difference between their attitudes and reasoning and that presented by myself and Dr. Ascol.
Be listening to the DL Tuesday morning for a full discussion of this situation. And as I noted in one of the last e-mails in the above linked file, our phone lines are open for Ergun and Emir Caner to call as well. I for one would love to hear either one defend their thesis statement live. They would be welcome to call.
For Those Wondering...
05/01/2006 - James WhiteNo, the Caners remain in silent mode. No responses to any e-mails, no response to the previous blog article, Dividing Line discussions, etc. The silent treatment continues. With the Shabir Ally debate this week (you'd think they would both be quite interested in my engaging one of the leading Islamic apologists, given their background, but despite repeatedly referring to this, neither has ever responded or shown the slightest interest in the debate) I don't really have time or interest in pursuing the matter. Once the debate is over, I will call their offices and seek to speak directly to them.
BaptistFire.Com, Meet StrangeBaptistFire.com
05/01/2006 - James WhiteMost of my readers are familiar with BaptistFire.com, the conservative Baptist website that is, sadly, likewise rabidly anti-Reformed, grossly one-sided, and anonymous as to who is involved in promulgating its articles. Well, a number of folks have gotten together to launch www.StrangeBaptistFire.com, a website which will debunk the constantly misleading, imbalanced, and often easily refuted materials posted on BaptistFire.com.
Now, one of the key arguments you will find against Calvinism on BaptistFire is Adrian Rogers' sermon on Romans 9. I reviewed this sermon August 31 and September 14, 2002 on The Dividing Line. Those programs are available here.
I wasn't asked to submit anything to StrangeBaptistFire.com, but, if I had been, this is what I would have sent in:
I suppose, in some very rare instances, there is a reason for men to be anonymous in their writing. I suppose if a fatwah was proclaimed upon someone so that for the safety of one's family one had to remain anonymous, that would be perfectly acceptable. But in the vast majority of instances, there is only one reason for anonymity when writing upon theological subjects: refusal to be held accountable for what one says.
Whoever is behind BaptistFire.com chooses to present the most horrifically one-sided materials. It is not that they do not know there is another side. They just refuse to acknowledge it or deal with that it says. This makes for "easy" theology: by remaining anonymous and refusing to do the work required of a sound theologian, you can say what you want and ignore its utter decimation in the marketplace of ideas. Who cares if the other side shreds your arguments with regularity? You just have to live on the "margin" of folks who either 1) do not know how to find out what the other side is saying, or 2) have such a strong desire to continue believing what you are teaching that they will join you in willfully ignoring the refutation of their own beliefs. And there is an amazingly large audience to be had under those two heads.
Refusing to hide behind the cloak of anonymity requires one to be held accountable for what you say and how you say it. If you engage in the use of double standards, that will be made clear through the examination of your known writings. But if you hide your identity, you can speak out of both sides of your mouth with impugnity.
There is no room for Christian cowardice in "speaking the truth in love" and even in addressing things which are difficult and divisive. No one is persecuting the folks at BaptistFire.com; they do not need to hide for the safety of their wives and kids. The only reasons they could possibly have would be 1) they know they cannot defend their positions and hence avoid all challenges by remaining unknown; 2) they could lose financially if their one-sided, often grossly erroneous, writings were exposed, or 3) they are double-minded and double-tongued in that they act/say one thing in "real life," but write/speak otherwise on their website. In any case, none of these constitute a meaningful defense for Christian anonymity in the promulgation of falsehoods, which is what BaptistFire.com is all about.
I have written to BaptistFire a number of times, challenging them to come out of the closet, come into the light of the truth, and engage the issues. They have consistently refused to do so. It is my prayer that eventually one of their number will be convicted about their behavior, leave the group, and "spill the beans" so that real accountability can be brought to bear upon the horrifically flawed materials posted on that website with regularity.
Till then, I will rejoice that I do not have to hide my face in shame when I proclaim God's truth. I do not have to blush knowing that I am hiding the truth, presenting only a lopsided argument against my own views. And I will not hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, either. My name is James White. I'm the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, www.aomin.org. And every person behind BaptistFire.com knows one thing: not a one of them would ever be caught dead standing before a live audience in a debate against me on the very central issues upon which they pontificate with regularity on their website. That doesn't make me special: it does, however, reflect very, very badly upon them.