Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
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."
I remember being told a number of years ago that a prominent Southern Baptist, immediately upon the final victory of the conservatives in the great inerrancy war, had commented, "First the liberals, next the Calvinists." I do not know if that statement was ever made, but if it wasn't, it might as well have been. The real question seems to be, will those who cry so loudly about Calvinism, even to the point of constantly misrepresenting it and ignoring the refutation of their own position, ever expose themselves to meaningful interaction? Or will they follow the path of least resistance: create a bogeyman enemy of Calvinism, create an emotional juggernaut, hope no one listens, and think they can win the war thereby? Such would be a most foolish decision, for so many reasons, but two that stand out are: 1) the younger generation is filled with bright young men and women who realize that to be a Christian today is to have to use your mind and give a reason for the hope that is in you; and to do that requires you to think through objections to your faith, and the only consistent answers to the toughest questions are those found by consistently exegeting the text of Scripture. And that leads directly to...you got it, Calvinism. And 2) the liberals who were vanquished, in part, anyway, from the SBC were not a natural development of the historic confession of faith of the SBC. Not so Calvinism. Unless these modern anti-Calvinists can manage to purge the planet of the writings of the early Southern Baptists, the fact that many of them were (gasp) Calvinists will always be there upon the printed page. In fact, if they were consistent, they would have to say some of the very founders of the Convention were "hyper-Calvinists," to use their own newly redefined terminology.
Ergun Caner has commented on the self-made "Calvinist controversy" on "Falwell.com", here.
I would like to offer some replies to his comments, especially as they put a little different public spin on things that appeared in our e-mail correspondence. Let's look at a few things:
1) Another church splits over Calvinism. Why not, "Another church splits over man-centeredness versus God-centeredness"? How about, "People who refuse to submit to the Bible leave church"? How about, "Church splits over refusal of some to submit their traditions to the Word of God"? See the purposeful attempt here to make "Calvinism" the issue, while refusing to allow an appropriate description of those who deny God's freedom in salvation while insisting upon the sovereign freedom of the condemned sinner? This is the same methodology used by Rome's apologists when they attack sola scriptura but refuse to apply the same standards to their own position.
2) TRBC is heavily promoting Caner's "Esau was hated because of what Esau did...please ignore what Paul actually said about that" sermon. They have replayed it on their satellite outlets, and here they are selling it from their website. See my correspondence with the Caners for their non-replies to the refutation of his many errors in that sermon.
3) "Is Calvinism slowly overtaking Baptist churches?" Only if Baptist churches continue to consistently teach their people to read and believe God's Word, and God blesses by His Spirit! Thankfully, Calvinism has "overtaken" many a Baptist church for centuries. That's why we have the London Baptist Confession of 1689. Those historical facts are so stubborn!
4) "I am not a Hyper Calvinist. I am not an Arminian. I am a Baptist, and historically we have dwelt somewhere in the middle. Indeed, we have been all over the map on this issue." When you find something like that last line "refreshing," you've been dealing with less than compelling material for a long time. I, like Caner, am not a hyper-Calvinist. I am surely not an Arminian. I am a Baptist. And a Calvinist. Baptist and Calvinist refer to two different things. Baptist refers to my views on baptism, church government, the Scriptures. Calvinist refers to my view on salvation, the freedom of God, the deadness of man in sin, God's electing grace. The term "Baptist" has indeed been claimed by people whose views on soteriology have been as wide as the ocean itself. That is why saying "I'm not a Calvinist, I'm a Baptist" is devoid of logical meaning. No responsible scholar could ever be caught making such a statement. And I simply remind folks that the "map" Dr. Caner refers to includes London, 1689. [continued tomorrow]