Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Irony of Ironies
06/27/2006 - James WhiteI noted a few weeks ago the fine sermon by our brother Roy Hargrave on "The Idol of Evangelism," found here. We have a fine and ironic example of this mindset in the words of that anonymous blogger, he who lacks the courage to even identify himself, Charles the Brave, the man who provides Bob Ross with an outlet on the web for his various meandering attack pieces, in that today he attacks Tom Ascol and me in a piece based upon Google satellite images! Yes indeed, here it is. I guess he forgot to mention that even Spurgeon's church today is much different than it was in the days of Spurgeon himself. Why? Because Peter Masters isn't evangelistic? Surely not. What these shallow thinking troublers of the brethren today ignore is the reality of the situation of the church today in Western culture. Sound, solid, God-honoring churches are a blessing upon a nation. They seemingly think that God is bound to always be building mega-churches. The idea of an increase in godliness in a small church that produces disciples who are true disciples in all of life is totally lost on them since their theology is a quarter inch deep. The idea of faithfulness to God's truth in the midst of widespread apostasy is likewise beyond their very limited horizons. Of course, we don't find Charles the Brave evangelizing Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims. We only find him aping Bob Ross attack pieces on Christian leaders.
The irony here is that I will be speaking at the Metropolitan Tabernacle one week from today. My first subject will be the Da Vinci Code and how we can use this cultural event as a springboard for...evangelism! You truly have to wonder if Charles, or whoever he really is, is actually a Calvinist double-agent, seeking to make the Synergists look silly? Maybe this Da Vinci painting holds the answer....
In the Interests of Consistency
06/26/2006 - James WhiteI have added Ergun Caner's response to Tom Ascol's letter to the pdf file. Sorry to keep making you download the same file, but it's easier to keep it in one place, I guess. The irony is that I had posted Tom's e-mail last night, though Caner evidently did not bother to check that before firing off this missive, and hence implies we would not want it made public. As I mentioned last evening, I will discuss this situation on the DL tomorrow, but then I am focusing upon other projects until I return from the UK. At that point I will write an open letter to Dr. Caner, going back to the initial challenge I made to him, and, on the basis of his own current claims, demonstrate how we must proceed if, in fact, his claims to actually want a debate are true. If he is, in fact, just trying to find a way to get out of the debate through being offensive and irrational, that won't work, and that will be that. Here is this morning's installment of "As Liberty Turns." I will not be replying to it. I don't believe Tom will be either, at least not for now. Given the documentation of the past four months, we could take up to a month to respond without any problems.
26 June 2006The updated file of the current correspondence is still here.
Dear Dr Ascol:
Well, for the first time in this discussion, I have come to the conclusion that posting private correspondence, which usually takes place between Christian gentlemen behind the scenes, might be helpful if posted. This is one e-mail that I believe should be posted, but I doubt if you will do it. This will stay private, or scrubbed, much like Brad Reynolds exchanges:
1. For the record, your quote of my words at the SBC was correct. I did use the word “pimped.”
2. I do love the fact that Dr. Falwell is willing to give this debate as big a stage as possible.
3. He believes, as we do, that this is a vital issue in the SBC, and MUST be confronted to as large a crowd as possible.
4. Of course, since no one is making any money on this debate (as Emir and I stipulated- no tickets and no “entry fees”) your concern over being “prostituted” is not really valid.
5. HOWEVER, before you storm off...please do not feel too superior. Would it change the equation if we were offering to pay you for doing a CRUISE to teach?
6. Yes, Dr. Ascol, we understand your desire not to be pimped. Does that extend to traveling on a cruise with Dr. White...along with others...for free...as the advertised speaker? Apparently I am not as accomplished at this “pimping” thing...
I am sorry you feel the way you do, Dr. Ascol.
So, You Tell Me....
06/25/2006 - James WhiteThe e-mails are running 70-30. Seventy percent want me to press forward, hold my nose, and let the truth do the speaking on October 16th. Thirty percent say, "These men are not serious, there is no way to reason with them, get out while you still can."
I would like nothing better than to never have anything to do with the likes of Ergun Caner again. You will note I am not referring to him as "brother." I've grown tired of trying to bend over backwards and absorb his constant insults while going, "Oh, he's just a brother with tradition issues." No, the man is mean-spirited, angry, insolent, and has an ego as big as the Glamour Shots on his website. I am definitely the victim of trying way too hard to give someone the benefit of the doubt. One of my many, many faults.
Stephen Morse just posted this on his blog:
Later as I heard him destroy Romans 9 in a sermon at Thomas Road Baptist Church, I simply wrote him off as an angry, yipping puppy. His rhetoric and vitrolic verbage doesn't interest me in the least and it makes him look like a jr. high punk....The longer I read the interaction between Drs White and Caner though, I struggle to see the difference. The more they dialogue the more they are beginning to look like each other....Dr. White... Give it up already. Who cares what they (the Caner ilk) think of you... those who respect you and enjoy your ministry are beginning to think ill of you. It won't make you look any better and it certainly doesn't reflect well on your testimony of Christ's work when you end up looking as bad as they do! Be the bigger man and let the little boys have their fun... it doesn't reflect on you at all but when you join them at their tired ploys... it does.Yes, it is devastating, after having invested so much effort to carefully, painstakingly respond to each claim, demonstrate the twisting of facts, the straw-man argumentation, and the like, that Ergun Caner, a seminary president no less, has been throwing out over the past four months, to be accused of starting to look like Caner himself. It truly makes you wonder if it is ever worth giving an answer. But there are many who think as Pastor Morse. Some of my closest friends have said, "James, drop it. That man is beyond all reason. He just wants a show, he does not want a debate. Give it up." Now, I happen to agree with them. Ergun Caner is no serious scholar, he is no serious theologian. He is the Baptist version of Art Sippo. The fact that he has done everything in his power to avoid every demonstration of his errors as well as avoid ever putting himself in a position of having to actually debate me--you know, actually interact, get to the text, demonstrate you know what you are talking about---proves that point. On that level the correspondence files alone have ended any and all scholarly or apologetic credibility Caner ever wanted for himself. And given his behavior, honestly, all we have to do is sit back and he will implode on his own. ...
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I'm at a Loss for Words
06/23/2006 - James WhiteI have added Ergun's morning installment to As Liberty Turns to the pdf I created yesterday, along with my response. I am so tired of the whole thing I am not even going to bother posting it here on the blog in its entirety. As normal, I have responded to each of his points (a courtesy he has almost never extended to me), so it is rather lengthy. Here is the updated version. Hopefully using the same file name won't cause anyone download problems. It is now twenty pages long in pdf format, so if you don't have twenty pages, you have the old version. I am so very thankful that I took the barbs of many to post the correspondence starting back in February. As you will see in today's exchange, Ergun Caner is completely rewriting history, and I am able to quote his own words to correct his imaginative reconstruction of the past.
In any case, do pray about this situation. It truly seems to me that the Caners are doing everything in their power to make us lose all hope that anything could possibly be accomplished by pressing forward with this debate. Only the prayers of God's people will be able to restrain the spirits of men that evening so that His truth will be made known.
This Speaks For Itself
06/23/2006 - James WhiteTo be honest, this kind of correspondence deeply saddens me. I am hesitant to post it, but I do so for mainly one reason: it seems the Caners are doing all they can to force any logically thinking person to run from even considering trying to engage in meaningful dialogue and debate with them. They are insisting upon their incoherent thesis without ever bothering to explain what it allegedly means; and now they are plainly stating that, unlike all the challenges first provided to them, the debate will be on "Omnibenevolence." In my response I will provide documentation from Caner's own keyboard demonstrating that once again he is trying to change history. But the following truly speaks for itself.
23 June 2006
Dear Dr White:
Once again, for those who are not revising history, I have decided to respond. As a Christian and a gentleman, I do want all to know that I shall copy this e-mail to others, and will more than likely post it on all websites, as soon as I get time. Unlike others, I do not have time to spend every waking moment cyberstalking.
Emir, I will handle this one, and then I shall leave this alone. October is the time for this- not four months prior. If Dr White wants to actually debate on level ground without stomping his feet and whining, then we shall have a debate, on the topic to which we all agreed.
1. You stated that the topic has been “demonstrated to be incoherent.” Actually, the moderator, who has won almost twenty national debate championships, has noted the topic was valid. The large number of encouraging e-mails we have received have seen this as coherent. Apparently the only people who imagine the topic as incoherent are those who simply do not want to debate God’s omnibenevolence. So, if you and your people do not want to debate, simply say so. We want to debate the topic. Just because you do not LIKE the topic does not mean it is invalid. You want us to define our terms before the debate, which is illogical. Defining terms is part of the purpose of debate. I see no reason to play my cards now. The debate is in October. Not now.
2. You continue to use man-made terms that you and those of your ilk want to revise (monergism and synergism, hyper Calvinism, etc.). You continue to prove our point- MOST evangelicals, including the millions who support Dr. Falwell, do not adhere to a 16th century movement , or 17th century Dortian parameters. We use biblical terms, in the biblical context.
3. As for your continued reference to my Esau statement, please continue to do so. The full biblical context of Esau, and others that you can cite, is clearly in OUR court.
4. As a matter of fact, this is a perfect illustration of the debate. In our brief history:
A. You called for the debate, speaking to your minions on your internet show.
B. We had no desire to debate you, since Dr Geisler had already adequately answered you.
C. You e-mailed that Dr. Geisler had NOT adequately answered you, which either illustrates your lack of clarity or blind adherence to your philosophical system of Augustinian predeterminism.
D. Finally, I agreed, but only if you were not allowed to narrow the debate. That is your manipulation of which we are all so fond.
E. The topic was resolved.
F. Then you whined about the time. Even though presidential debates are shorter, you somehow believed you deserve a bigger stage.
G. We offered the site. LU shall swallow the costs of taping. You are still not satisfied.
H. You want to narrow the topic, to fit your liking, and lengthen the time. That is not going to happen. Debate on a level surface.
Let me quickly add that I have not seen Dr. Ascol in this same light. Even though he and I would disagree vehemently on the topic, I have found him a calm Christian gentleman. I do believe we will be able to debate fairly, across the spectrum of Calvinism and Baptist theology.
Dr. White, in Oct 1960, Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on the desk of the UN. He screamed “we will bury you!” His boorish behavior was followed by interrupting speakers, and loudly proclaiming his victory. I see parallels. Apparently, you believe this is all for show. That would be backed up by the fact that you cannot sneeze without posting it on your site.
James, you claim that we do not understand doctrines? Well, if that is the case, we stand in the stream of the vast majority of evangelicals who will not accept your doctrines of reprobation. In truth, we clearly understand, and we do not buy into it. We refuse to be categorized as Calvinism or Arminianism, Augustinianism or Pelagianism. I am a biblicist and a Baptist.
And neither will we be manipulated (my students call it being “punked”) into a limited debate topic, or a protracted debate time.
Either come, or don’t. Either debate the topic or admit you do not want to. In either case, Emir and I, and our respective schools, shall be there, on Monday, October 16, 2006, to debate the Omnibenevolence of God.
Until then, I shall just smile, every time I receive some e-mail. Every single e-mail proves our point. Neo-Calvinists cannot answer our points, so you attack us. Classic ad hominem. If our system of theology has brought disrepute to Christian theology, because we do not believe in neo-Calvinism, then we will gladly stand in that stream. From Norman Geisler and C.S. Lewis all the way back, we have church history, and logical biblical thought on our side.
I hope to see you October 16, 2006. And please, find your own URLs. You seem to have much more time than I do to do these things.
Major Developments in the Lynchburg Debate Saga UPDATED
06/22/2006 - James WhiteWell, as some of you have been wondering what has been going on regarding the October 16th debate in Lynchburg with Ergun and Emir Caner. I had sent a note to Dr. O'Donnell once again, since it had been a full month since we had first contacted him, and had asked that he respond by the 20th. He replied on the 21st. I replied the same day, and this morning Ergun Caner's response arrived (though, for some reason, it was not sent to me, I had to get it through Rich Pierce).
I have been criticized for posting these e-mails. I believe this interaction will vindicate that decision, at least for those who value truth and honesty. Anyone with access to the first two correspondence files (found here and here) along with this new one (found here) has a full basis upon which to judge the behavior of everyone involved, including myself. But just to quote a portion of my response to Dr. Caner today:
Well, Dr. Caner, though I had, in my worst moments, considered that this was indeed your mindset and your purpose, I had never expected to receive written confirmation of it. But you have provided it anyway. I am simply amazed.
OK, evidently, you are saying the following:
1. This is our house. We will do what we please.
2. We choose the format. Tough if you don't like it. Tough if nobody uses it in theological debates. Tough if it doesn't allow for meaningful and extensive cross-examination like you do with others. We don't want that anyway.
3. We choose the thesis statement. We will not answer your questions about it. We will not respond to the fact that it could just as easily be used by a universalist. Tough. We like ambiguity. Live with it.
4. We would rather behave like this in private, please.
5. If you don't like it, go away. Otherwise, show up. It's not important to us. We are part of the biggest university around and you are no more important than spam anyway.
Seems like a fairly good summary to me.
You will have to read the file to believe it. But there it is.
Now, ironically, Ergun Caner began his e-mail this morning by noting that Emir had called him to bring his attention to it. Emir Caner is a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. Ironically, until a couple of hours ago, I was scheduled to speak in an apologetics conference at Southwestern in September, the night after Kirk Cameron spoke, and the night before Emir Caner was to speak. I was scheduled to speak on Mormonism and related subjects. Now, I guess it could just be a massive coincidence, but out of the blue (I had been told to purchase my airline tickets only a few days ago) I was just disinvited from speaking and have been replaced on the program with a discussion of the Word Faith movement (revised schedule here). I asked if Dr. Caner was still speaking. He is. Evidently the change in direction for the apologetics conference was from speaking about groups like Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses to speaking about the Word Faith Movement. Well, stranger things have happened.
Once you read through the new correspondence document, you will be up to speed. We have tried to set up a debate long enough to really engage the text of Scripture. Liberty won't have it. We have tried to use the best format available, allowing for lots of interaction and cross-examination. Nope, won't happen. So we are left with a 2.5 hour debate, parliamentary style format, and a thesis statement understandable only upon translation into Tongan. But we will do all we can to make the freedom of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ clear as best we can in the situation in which we have been placed.
UPDATE Dr. Caner has replied. I have placed his reply, and mine, in the above linked pdf. Here is the text:
Dr. White, as one who debates so often, you should know- attempting to change the topic of debate is a concession of defeat. I am thrilled you have posted your response. We have apparently found one of the many topics that are the hyper Calvinist’s weakness.
And thank you for proving my thesis concerning manipulation.
We shall be there, Oct 16, to debate the stated topic.
Emir, please make sure we post these interchanges as well. I keep getting e-mails from his own camp, confused by his stance.
Dear Dr. Caner:
Yes, changing the topic normally is such an indication. Of course, what confuses me, and anyone else, is how you could possibly read what I sent to you and think that I am changing the topic. Your thesis statement has been demonstrated to be incoherent. You have refused to respond to any of the criticisms I have offered of it. Given that you have had plenty of time to do so, I can only conclude that you do not, in fact, have the ability to respond to the questions asked of you regarding your statement.
Next, I have offered a plain, clear statement that directly addresses the difference between your synergistic system wherein God tries, but fails, to save each and every human being, and my monergistic stance wherein God "works all things in accordance with the counsel of His will" and saves every single one of those the Father gives to the Son through the perfect work of the Son on Calvary and the perfect work of the Spirit who brings spiritual life to those who are spiritually dead at the exact time the divine Trinity determines. Everyone knows this is the issue, and to say that focusing upon whether God seeks to save every individual equally or whether He has an elect people chosen solely by His good pleasure is changing the topic of a debate on Calvinism only shows, once again, sir, that you have no idea what you've been preaching against all along.
Finally, as it has been proven, repeatedly, your dishonest use of the term "hyper-Calvinism" is a canard, and to be honest, much more of an indication of "defeat" than an accurate representation of the difference between monergism and synergism. I am once again left simply speechless by such a retort. Given that you are the man who stood before thousands of people and television cameras and turned Romans 9:11-13 on its head, preaching the most incredible example of eisegesis I think I've ever heard, I truly wonder if you have applied the same kind of eisegetical reading skills on the e-mail you received (and to which, evidently, you have no meaningful response?).
And thank you for proving my thesis concerning manipulation.Given that you do not offer any foundation for your statement, I will have to take this as an indication that you cannot provide evidence of "manipulation," and admit such.
We shall be there, Oct 16, to debate the stated topic.Whatever it means. :-) I.e., "We demand this thesis statement. We will not explain it. We will not defend its awkward phrasing, its ambiguity, the fact that it could actually be used by heretics. It is our thesis statement. We demand you use it, or we will claim you lose!" Sorry, I can do nothing more at this point but smile. What else can be said?
Emir, please make sure we post these interchanges as well. I keep getting e-mails from his own camp, confused by his stance.Yes, please do post them. All of them. In completeness, as you yourself requested, Dr. Caner, initially. And please send me the URLs. I'd like to have reference to them. All of mine can be found listed on my blog at www.aomin.org.
Quick Conference Note
06/17/2006 - James WhiteJeff Downs has organized a conference that those of you back east should be aware of. Read about it here.
The Results of Misrepresentation
06/16/2006 - James WhiteWhile no end of interesting illustrations could be mined from continuing to review Jimmy Akin's desperate attempt to avoid admitting he simply doesn't care to keep abreast with developments in his area of self-professed expertise, I likewise find the task most distasteful. I have not invested much time perusing the comments on Akin's blog, but I did look through a few of them. I have no problems whatsoever with those who have blogs that in essence are web-boards with specific topics introduced by a single person or group of people. Isn't that what many blogs have become? Akin writes an article. It has a particular topic. Then, the comments section becomes a "thread" with all sorts of folks chiming in. How is that at all different than the web-boards that populate the Internet and that I have found to be an endless black-hole into which you could quite honestly pour the entirety of your waking hours and never plumb the bottom? The only difference I can see is that on such blogs, one person, or group of people, get to determine the threads. Other than that, I see no difference. Now, I noted numerous complaints that I do not allow comments on this blog. Why? For the same reason we do not have a web-board. It would mean the end of writing books, chapters, articles, or anything else, as well as the end of debate preparation, research, etc. If someone wants to read the wide variety of opinions on theology and apologetics held by those who frequent the Internet, there are tens of thousands of sites that will allow you to do so. There are far fewer places where you can go and read about apologetics and theology from a Reformed Baptist perspective in words by someone who is directly involved in practicing that form of apologetics. I see little benefit in setting up a mud puddle at the bottom of each article so that those who wish to have a ready supply of mud can fling it with gusto and zeal. Let's face it. Some who write comments have good insights. But the insightful and meaningful comment is the exception, not the rule. The majority of comments, especially in apologetics threads, are made by those who lack any foundation upon which to speak, and I simply see no reason to provide a platform for the expression of the collective ignorance of the "religious Internet."
By the way, for those who have become completely confused, it is not ad-hominem argumentation (or even an expression of mean-spiritedness) to refer to someone as "ignorant." I am ignorant of many things. Wide swaths of human knowledge mock me by painting me as the ignorant man I am. Anyone who takes offense at the use of the term is muddled, pure and simple. And when it comes to theology and apologetics, ignorance abounds...and is evidently quite blissful as well (to fulfill another popular proverb).
One comment left on Akin's blog was posted in our chat channel, and I checked it out. It gives me a good segue into some commentary on the continuing Caner saga:
Aha, I just noticed that James White is a Reformed Protestant, believing in the Calvinist doctrine that God predestined some people for hell; in fact, that God CREATED some people KNOWING that they would go to hell and spend their eternal existance in utter torment....
If he can worship such a god, I know I can't. That's what drove me away from Protestantism in the first place.
But if he does believe in "preservation of the saints," then James White can rest easy when it comes to MY soul, because I did "accept Jesus as my savior" in a Protestant church. According to Calvinism, I could now engage in witchcraft or become a mass murderer with no repentenance to the very end, and I would still enter heaven. Makes converting to Catholicism look rather innocent by comparison!
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Letter to Dr. O'Donnell and the Caners, 6/13/06
06/13/2006 - James WhiteThe following e-mail was sent to Ergun Caner, Emir Caner, Brent O'Donnell, Tom Ascol, and Rich Pierce at 3:28pm MST, June 13, 2006.
Allow me to state right up front that in light of the public nature of the debate and the issues that separate us, I will be posting all attempts at communication concurrently on my website.
On May 13th, 2006, I began adding Dr. O'Donnell's e-mail address to the cc list of our communications. Since that time we have asked a number of direct questions of Dr. O'Donnell relating to the format that has been proposed by the Caners. We have asked for a bibliography of texts used at Liberty, and the rule book that Dr. O'Donnell would be using, so that we might be able to evaluate the format to see if it would provide sufficient interaction for a real debate to actually take place. And though my system has received return receipts from Dr. O'Donnell's e-mail address for each of the e-mails sent to him, as of this date, a full month later, we have received no replies from Dr. O'Donnell.
I realize it is possible that there might be a few extreme reasons why Dr. O'Donnell has not engaged in any correspondence whatsoever on this issue in a full month now. It is possible there has been some tragedy in his family, a death or the like, that has taken him far away from any means of communication. It is possible he is in Nairobi doing missions work amongst tribal peoples where there is no electricity or access to the Internet. But barring these rather unlikely scenarios, it seems Dr. O'Donnell has simply chosen not to provide us with the kindness of even a short, "Busy until June X working on a book, won't be able to respond till then..." type of e-mail.
This once again raises the very serious issue of Dr. O'Donnell's willingness to function as moderator for this debate. Moderators must, by definition, be even handed and fair. Possibly the relationship that exists between Dr. O'Donnell and Dr. Ergun Caner, who is President of the Seminary, might be an insurmountable impediment to his taking on this role? Whatever the case may be, I simply cannot see any likely reason why our reasonable requests for a response from him on important issues would be met with silence for a full month. Could I ask for a response, please, as to why this is? And given that we have had to deal with the "silence" issue in the past, I will assume a lack of response by Tuesday, June 20th, is an indication that Dr. O'Donnell will not be working with us on this debate.
2 Peter 3:9 and the "Letterhead Argument"
06/11/2006 - James WhiteThis is surely the most popular passage cited (almost never with any reference to the context) to prove that God could not possibly desire to save a specific people but instead desires to save every single individual person, thereby denying election and predestination. The text seems inarguably clear. But it is always good to see a text in its own context:
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.Immediately one sees that unlike such passages as Ephesians 1, Romans 8-9, or John 6, this passage is not speaking about salvation as its topic. The reference to "coming to repentance" in 3:9 is made in passing. The topic is the coming of Christ. In the last days mockers will question the validity of His promise. Peter is explaining the reason why the coming of Christ has been delayed as long as it has. The day of the Lord, he says, will come like a thief, and it will come at God’s own time.
This fact needs to be emphasized. The context is clearly eschatological, not primarily soteriological. Though men like Ergun Caner dismiss this observation, they do not bother providing a rationale for their dismissal, nor, evidently, do they think they need to. A basic rule of sound exegesis involves recognizing context first and foremost. Passages that are specifically addressing a topic are given priority over passing comments made in contexts that are not specifically addressing a given subject. A comment made "in passing" may be relevant and important, but the fact that it is, in fact, made in passing, and not in a context specifically on a given subject, must always be kept in mind.
This is also an important observation regarding those who seek to ask in-depth questions of passing comments rather than allowing them to be what they are by nature: passing comments. Demanding deep specificity and great depth of information from a phrase or even just a few words that are not even the subject or focus of a text is illogical. We will see how this is important when looking at some "Calvinistic" interpretations of the text as well. ...
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Final Response to Dr. Caner on Falwell.com
06/09/2006 - James WhiteFinally, this definition of "Neo-Calvinist" concludes,
Calvinism is the only Gospel. Simply put, when a person holds this narrow view, they become exclusivists. They believe that Calvinism, and only Calvinism, is the preaching of the Gospel. One historian wrote, "Calvinism is just another name for Christianity."1 If that is true, what does that say about the myriad of preachers throughout Church history who were not Calvinists? Were they even saved?
The "historian" to which Caner refers is Dr. John Gerstner. Sadly, Dr. Caner did not read Dr. Gerstner directly. No, take a look at the footnote. He's giving us a secondary source. And his actual source? A paragon of fairness and accurate research perhaps? No, it's Dave Hunt. Oft-refuted, never willing to debate, let's cite the NWT--OK, no, let's say this meaning isn't in the lexicons--no, wait, OK, let's say it was originally written in Hebrew--ack, no, never mind, didn't really mean that--Oh, look, Spurgeon denied limited atonement unequivocally--uh, I mean he contradicted himself, Dave Hunt.
I wonder. Does Dr. Caner believe his version of synergism is, or is not, the gospel? If he believes it is the gospel, doesn't he have to answer the same questions about Calvinists that he asks us to answer about others? Should someone actually preach a message they do not believe is the most accurate representation of the gospel itself? I've never understood this objection outside of the fact that if a person cannot think clearly they may be emotionally impacted by it. Is that the reason to offer it? I certainly hope not. Gerstner was saying nothing more than what Spurgeon said:
And I have my own private opinion that there is no such a thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in his dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering, love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the peculiar redemption which Christ made for his elect and chosen people; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having believed. Such a gospel I abhor. The gospel of the Bible is not such a gospel as that (2/11/1855).
(I note parenthetically that I have been informed Dr. Caner teaches his classes that Spurgeon was an Amyraldian, a "four-pointer." I would love to hear his response to this text and its plain promotion of 'particular redemption.')
11) Dr. Caner comments regarding the phrase, "the doctrines of grace":
They may believe in the "Doctrines of Grace" for themselves, but they hold to the "Doctrines of Damnation" for most people, unless they view the damnation of souls to hell as a work of grace.
No, it isn't a work of grace. But that is hardly the point, is it? Damnation is a work of justice. We all deserve justice. Some get grace. Who decides? Is God's grace freely given by His sovereign choice, or can it be demanded by sinful man? That is the issue. I wonder, would Dr. Caner lodge the same objection to the glorification of the grace of God in the eternal state? When the redeemed stand around the throne, would he likewise say, "Well, you can sing about the grace of God all you want, and call it glorious, but look at all those who are damned! It's not grace for them!" Would this be a meaningful argument? Hardly. "Oh, but they were offered that grace, and refused it!" Of course they refused it. The only thing we differ on is whether it makes any sense to say freedom was "offered" to corpses, grace was "offered" to slaves. ...
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Continued Response to Dr. Caner
06/08/2006 - James White5) Reformed brothers. So, which is it? Am I a Reformed brother? If so, why refuse to answer that honestly asked question? Or are there some Reformed brothers as long as they aren't my kind? We just don't know.
6) Is there a meaningful parallel between the charismatic controversy of years past (who actually won that battle? Compare the "worship" at TRBC today with that thirty years ago and you might wonder as well) and the current anti-Calvinist movement in the SBC? Well, all controversies have parallels, however, there was no historical foundation in Southern Baptist life, or Baptist life in general, for the unique claims of the Charismatic movement. But once again, there most certainly is solid historical foundation for Reformed theology in Baptist history. This isn't even an arguable point. So on the most meaningful level, no, there is no parallel.
7) "In the same regard, the present controversy cannot be blamed on all Calvinists or Reformed Baptists." Please note that last phrase. Reformed Baptists. That's me. Hi. Nice to meet you. See how the two terms go together? Yes, that's not an oxymoron. Yes, I know all about those who say it is.
8) Caner refers to those who do not make this a test of fellowship. But we are still wondering, does Dr. Caner make the reverse a test of fellowship?
9) Now we have a new term, "Neo-Calvinist." Sadly, this new term starts with an old term misused, "hyper-Calvinist." And such a bad person is "obsessed." No one wants to be obsessed, of course. And surely we can see the wisdom in not thinking that the almighty Kingship of God and His freedom to act in His own creation as He sees fit should ever function as a prism, a lens, for our theology. One could be forgiven for wondering out loud if it is not far more dangerous, and common, to allow the almighty will of the fallen creature man to function as the over-riding obsession of one's theology?
10) Sadly, Caner again illustrates either his ignorance of, or unwillingness to accept, basic historical theological definitions. He writes that "Neo-Calvinists" believe:
Double Predestination. Simply put, they believe that a small group of people are predestined, even before the Creation, for heaven, and that the vast majority of the world is predestined, even created for, hell....
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Response to Dr. Caner on Falwell.com
06/06/2006 - James WhiteWell, what a disappointment to discover that the blog article I referred to above is actually written by Ergun Caner, not Jerry Falwell. I saw falwell.com and since my current internet access is expensive and has to come in "bursts," I assumed if it was on falwell.com.... But I was disabused once I went off line and started to read the entire article. Oh well, still worth responding to. But as I am still working on Pulpit Crimes, I will break this response up a bit.
I am not a hyper-Calvinist. R.C. Sproul is not a hyper-Calvinist. John Piper is not a hyper-Calvinist. To believe in all "five points" is not to be a hyper-Calvinist. To believe God's choice of election is eternal in nature is not to be a hyper Calvinist. The term "hyper-Calvinism" has a meaning in and of itself, and it is irresponsible to think any one person, or group of people, has the right to redefine language itself so as to violate all standards of truth, honesty, and integrity.
Evidently, the anti-Reformed forces within the Southern Baptist Convention, Calvary Chapels, etc., have decided to follow the lead of the Main Stream Media in using redefinition based upon falsehoods, rather than biblical debate and compelling theological argumentation, as their chief weapon of choice. Norman Geisler, thankfully, knows theology well enough to know that he cannot use the term "hyper-Calvinist" of simple historic Calvinists because that term has an already defined meaning. So he comes up with a slightly less offensive term (though hardly any more accurate), "extreme" Calvinists to describe those who hold to the historic Reformed position on soteriology. But his counterparts in the Southern Baptist Convention have chosen to abandon all pretense to historic scholarship and simply grab hold of the moniker "hyper Calvinist" as their bludgeon of choice. If you believe God elected from eternity to glorify Himself by saving an undeserving people in Christ Jesus apart from any merit on their part, while revealing His justice and wrath in the just punishment of others who loved their sin and hated Him, and He did so freely, without any external compulsion, you are a hyper-Calvinist. Never mind that was the viewpoint of men like Spurgeon who wrote against hyper-Calvinism. Our modern Southern Baptists who rely upon such scholarly sources as "the Hebrew original of Acts 13:48" Hunt do not need to worry themselves about such minor folks as Spurgeon. Everything, it seems, is fair game in "the battle for the churches." ...
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Nothing New Under the Sun
06/06/2006 - James WhiteFor the couple of folks who thought Jerry Falwell looked displeased at the end of Ergun Caner's anti-Calvinism sermon a few weeks ago, well, he wasn't. Caner is giving the Liberty line, to be sure, from what Falwell says here. And what is so tremendously sad is to see the single reference in the entire entry is another "as cited in Dave Hunt...". You are simply left shaking your head.
I will reply to this blog entry a little later, as it seems Dr. Falwell makes reference to a comment I made to Ergun Caner in our first correspondence (i.e., regarding 2 Peter 3:9 being in an eschatological context). Of course, he offers no more refutation of what I said than Dr. Caner has. More to come!