Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
A Few Quick Items Before Travel
10/16/2006 - James WhiteFor those who have encountered yet another "Ergun Caner Uses Small Parts of Spurgeon Sermons" post on his website, enjoy reading the entire sermon. Remember, Ergun thinks Spurgeon denied limited atonement, too. He is tremendously selective as to what he will respond to and what he will not. I have said many times, the amazing thing about the statement "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated," is not Esau I hated. It is "Jacob I loved." If you don't start there, you'll never make heads or tails out of biblical theology.
I'm headed to Long Island, where I will be speaking at the Frankline Square Orthodox Presbyterian Church Wednesday evening at 7:30pm on Christianity and Islam. Then Pastor Shishko and I will debate the proper objects of baptism (credobaptism vs. oikobaptism) on Thursday evening. On Sunday I'll be at the Massapequa Church of God in...yes, Massapequa, just south of the Southern State, with Pastor Jim Capo and his fine folks. Then I get home on Monday, Lord willing, and have about a week to finish preparation for the conference, Spong debate, and cruise.
Obviously, having to re-arrange flight schedules, shipping our cameras and equipment for the Spong debate, etc., means this is an intensively expensive period of time. If you are in the minority of folks (and I assure you, it is a minority) who believes addressing issues such as homosexuality against those who would teach others in the name of Christianity to ignore God's law is important and useful, please remember to support us at this time. Just today I read a note from a very well known theologian identifying the Spong debate as worthless. I wanted to write and ask this well respected individual just who today was doing what the apostles did in engaging even those who "spoke against" the faith in public disputation (Acts 17 and 18, for example)? It is nice and safe behind the ivory walls of academia, but I don't recall the apostles ever building those walls for themselves, or anyone else.
Mike O'Fallon has put together an article documenting his repeated attempts to invite Ergun Caner to do a one-on-one debate with me on the subject of God's freedom in salvation. He's been at it a long time, and given Caner's accusation that he will not even consider it due to our lack of trustworthiness, it is good to see the one thing the other side has sort of forgotten about: documentation. Here is what Mike had to say:
This past week, Dr. Ergun Caner in his article Questions on Neo Calvinism, Part 1has posted the following on his website :
Q: SO, NOW DR. WHITE IS CALLING FOR A NEW DEBATE?
A: He has already proven that we cannot trust him in these things. Other professors warned me this type of thing would happen. It reminds me of the boy who will not play a game unless he owns the ball, or he sets the rules. Obviously, the chapter is closed. He walked away. Make of that what you will.
Dr. Caner is quite aware of thefact that debate proposals have been sent to him over the past year from Sovereign Cruises LLC. His insistence to cast doubt and nefarious motivations on Dr. White is in the very least misguided.
It has been seven wonderful years since Sovereign Cruises LLC began sponsoring moderated theological debates. What began as an honest attempt to bless the greater central Florida area with the opportunity to ponder deep and eternally significant matters has become a national clarion for discerning believers who understand that great progress can be made for truth and clarity when scholarly and respectful men of either side of a polemic issue are brought together and agree to respectfully disagree in a moderated environment. A mind stretched through the pondering of deep and weighty issues will never return to its original dimensions, and by the grace of God, mens hearts have been changed as well through our faithfulness.
Sovereign Cruises LLC is now blessed with the talents and efforts of Christopher Arnzen,our Northeast Regional Manager, who has as well sponsored The Great Debate series for ten years running. With our combined efforts, we have sponsored over 25 debates in the past 11 years such as:
· The Marian Doctrines Dr. James White vs Gerry Matatics
· Papal Infallibility Dr. James White vs Robert Sungenis
· Sola Scriptura Dr. James White vs Gerry Matatics
· *Are Roman Catholics Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ? James White vs Douglas Wilson
· *Veneration of Saints & Images Dr. James White vs Patrick Madrid
· *Purgatory: Biblical or Mythical? Dr. James White vs Fr. Peter Stravinskas
· *Is Homosexuality Compatible with Authentic Christianity? Dr. James White vs Barry Lynn
· By Faith Alone James White vs Gerry Matatics
· *Does God Know the Future? James White and John Sanders
· Is Knowing Jesus the Only Way to be Saved? Dr. James White and Dr. John Sanders
· Is Homosexuality Compatible with Authentic, Biblical Christianity Dr. James White vs. Rev. Barry Lynn
· *Is The Roman Catholic Priesthood Biblical & Ancient? Dr. James White vs Fr. Mitchell Pacwa
· Is Jesus God or a god? Dr. James White vs Greg Stafford
· How Biblical and Ancient is the Papacy? Dr. James White vs Fr. Mitchell Pacwa
· Calvinism Debate James White vs Pastor James Barker
· Does the New Testament Teach that Jesus is God? James White debates Muslim Scholar Hamza Abdul Malik
· Justification by Faith Dr. James White vs Robert Sungenis
· Is It Possible for a Non-Christian to Enter into Heaven? Dr. James White vs Bill Rutland
· Is the Bible True? Dr. James White vs. Dr. John Dominic Crossan
And in the next few weeks:
· Baptism: For infants or believers only? Dr. James White vs. Rev. William Shishko
· Is Homosexuality Compatible With Authentic, Biblical Christianity? Dr. James White vs. Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong DD
In all of the debates listed with all of the men who represent various divergent beliefs ( Some, such as Bill Shishko and Douglas Wilson who are very much considered in the same camp), we have never witnessed the posturing, manipulation, and ad hominem dialogue represented by Dr. Ergun Caner. The Roman Catholics, Jehovas Witnesses, Progressive Christianityscholars, Muslims and others represented in the above list have all approached the contracted debates with integrity, honesty and a spirit in where their ambitions were to present their positions in a fair and scholarly exchange. All of these debates have been conducted with our common desire to be fair to all sides and to keep our word in terms of the format, parameters and moderation of the process.
Sadly, Dr. Caner now appears to be suffering from willful amnesia. This condition is apparently so serious that it has apparently allowed him to ignore the consistent plea from Sovereign Cruises LLC to at least provide a yes or noreply for the debate propositions that have been delivered to him both through email and through public blog forum (a forum in which he was actively participating) since October 2005: long before the shell of a debate that was proposed at Liberty University.
For the sake of accuracy, the propositions were as follows:
The Following debate challenge was sent to Ergun Caner on October 24, 2005:
1. Debate Thesis proposed was: ""Does GodUnconditionally Elect Some Unto Salvation?"
2. Debate structure was proposed
Date: 24200510:08:48 -0700 (PDT)From: Michael O'Fallon
Subject: Debate ProposalTo: Ergun Caner
Greetings Caner!I would like to inquire as to the possibility ofhaving you participate in a formal, moderated,academic debate on November 3rd, 2006 at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa in Safety Harbor (Tampa) Florida.The proposed thesis of the debate would be "Does GodUnconditionally Elect Some Unto Salvation?" The debateopponent would be Dr. James R. White, adjunct professor ofapologetics at Golden Gate Baptist TheologicalSeminary and founder of Alpha and Omega Ministries...The proposed format of the debate would be:30 Minute opening statementsBreak25 Minute rebuttalsBreak20 Minute Affirmative Cross Examination20 Minute Negative Cross Examination20 Minute Affirmative Cross Examination20 Minute Negative Cross ExaminationBreak20 Minute Closing Statements30 Minutes of Audience QuestionsIf you agree to participate, you will be given 50% ofthe house take for the evening. As our attendance lastyear in Seattle was approximately 800, this should bea substantial sum. Round-trip air-fare for you and your wife, hotel andmeals while at the Safety Harbor Resort will be gratis. Please let me know if you are able to participate inthis event. Soli Deo Gloria,Michael O'FallonPresidentSovereign Cruises LLCwww.sovereigncruises.org email@example.com-SOV-CRUISE
The following *public* debate proposition was made on February 18, 2006 on the Founders Blog. Ergun and Emir commented on the blog and interacted with comments just prior to the debate challenge.After the debate proposition (which included venue, structure, and parameters for the event) was posted, Ergun commented asking why a debate was necessary,"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."
Please note the following:
1. Debate Thesis proposed was: ""Does GodUnconditionally Elect Some Unto Salvation?"
2. Debate structure was proposed
Greetings Dr. Caner! Back in October of 2005, I had sent an invitation for you to debate Dr. James White in Orlando, FL in November of 2006. Sadly, it appears that either your firewall, e-mail server or secretary must have either deleted the message as I did not receive a reply. The text of the message was as follows:Greetings Caner!I would like to inquire as to the possibility ofhaving you participate in a formal, moderated,academic debate on November 3rd, 2006 at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa in Safety Harbor (Tampa) Florida.The proposed thesis of the debate would be "Does GodUnconditionally Elect Some Unto Salvation?" The debateopponent would be Dr. James R. White, adjunct professor ofapologetics at Golden Gate Baptist TheologicalSeminary and founder of Alpha and Omega Ministries...The proposed format of the debate would be:30 Minute opening statementsBreak25 Minute rebuttalsBreak20 Minute Affirmative Cross Examination20 Minute Negative Cross Examination20 Minute Affirmative Cross Examination20 Minute Negative Cross ExaminationBreak20 Minute Closing Statements30 Minutes of Audience QuestionsIf you agree to participate, you will be given 50% ofthe house take for the evening. As our attendance lastyear in Seattle was approximately 800, this should bea substantial sum. Round-trip air-fare for you and your wife, hotel andmeals while at the Safety Harbor Resort will be gratis. Please let me know if you are able to participate inthis event. Soli Deo Gloria,Michael O'FallonPresidentSovereign Cruises LLCwww.sovereigncruises.org firstname.lastname@example.org-SOV-CRUISE
I hadn't received any replies back from some of the debate invitations that I sent out (Including Graham, Hunt, etc), so we changed course and invited the Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong which has already been confirmed. As this is the case for 2006, I would like to re-submit my invitation for you to debate Dr. White with the same thesis and stipulations. The debate will would be held in either San Diego, NYC (which is why I am in NYC currently - doing site visits), or Ft. Lauderdale. Feel free to utilize the e-mail provided in the text of the message to contact me at you leisure. I will be mostly out of contact Sunday through Tuesday and will return to Florida on Wednesday.Thank you in advance for being willing to formally debate these issues. I look forward to serving your needs in the future.Soli Deo Gloria,Michael O'FallonPresidentSovereign Cruises LLCwww.email@example.com-SOV-CRUISE
Dr. Caner would not interact or reply to any of the previous challenges (a note: Dr. Hunt and Graham did eventually reply with pleasant a pleasant no).After viewing the general arguments that Dr. Caner was using on the Founders blog, I decided to change the thesis to reflect his line of argumentation. The following was sent Feb. 24, 2006.
1. Debate Thesis proposed was: "Is a General Atonement Specificallyin the Bible?"
2. Debate structure was proposed
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 16:35:13 -0800 (PST)From: Michael O'Fallon
Greetings Dr. Caner and Dr. White!I would like to inquire as to the possibility ofhaving you participate in a formal, moderated,academic debate in 2007 in either Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, or San Diego. There is also the possibility of us holding a debate in 2006 on September 1st in Seattle, Washington.Lastly, we could as well hold the debate aboard the ms Veendam out of Tampa FL. on November 4thfare for you and your wife would be gratis).
Unlike the previous mentioned topic, the proposed thesis of the debate would be "Is a General Atonement Specificallyin the Bible?"I have annually sponsored formal theological debates that haveincluded Dr. White over the past 5 years. In descending order, our pastdebates were:*2005 "Is the Jesus of the New Testament HistoricallyAccurate" with Dr. James White and Dr. John DominicCrossan*2004 "Does Trinitarian Baptism Make One a Member ofthe New Covenant" with Dr. James White and Rev.Douglas Wilson*2003 "Is Jesus God or a god?" with Dr. James Whiteand Gregory Stafford*2002 "Does God Know the Future?" with Dr. James Whiteand Dr. John Sanders*2001 "Is Personal Knowledge of the Gospel of JesusChrist the Only Path of Salvation?" with Dr. JamesWhite and Dr. John Sanders*2000 "Is the Papacy Infallible?" with Dr. James Whiteand Robert SungenisThe proposed format of the debate would be:30 Minute opening statementsBreak25 Minute rebuttalsBreak30 Minutes Affirmative Cross Examination30 Minutes Negative Cross Examination30 Minutes Affirmative Cross Examination30 Minutes Negative Cross ExaminationBreak20 Minute Closing Statements30 Minutes of Audience QuestionsIf you agree to participate, you will be given 50% ofthe house take for the evening. As our attendance lastyear in Seattle was approximately 800, this should bea substantial sum. Round-trip air-fare for you and your wife, hotel andmeals while with us at the to be named resort will be gratis. Please let me know if you are able to participate inthis event. Soli Deo Gloria,Michael O'FallonPresidentSovereign Cruises LLCwww.sovereigncruises.org firstname.lastname@example.org-SOV-CRUISE
Dr. Ascol had a rather unfortunate encounter with Dr. Caner at the SBC conference in Greensboro, SC where Dr. Caner had used some rather unfortunate terms to characterize the marketing of the event. Dr. Ascol stated in his email to both Drs Caner and Dr. ODonnell in the following manner:
Ergun, when you told me and others in Greensboro about Dr. Falwell's plans to "pimp" this debate all over the world I was caught off guard. At first I thought I had misunderstood you but your repeated declarations that he was going to "pimp" it on TV and "pimp" it to "little old ladies" quickly disabused me of that notion. Your emails of the last two days have only confirmed my worst fears that your chosen vocabulary to describe this "debate" is all-too-accurate.Well, I am no one's prostitute. And I refuse to be "pimped." If you are comfortable letting Dr. Falwell "pimp" you then that is surely your prerogative. I would love to pursue a genuine, theological debate. If that is what the Drs. Caner want, then let's work it out and get it done. If, however, all you want to do is put on a Fundamentalist burlesque show, then go ahead with the plans that you are making but find yourself someone more suited than I to join you on stage.
Dr. Caner then replied to Dr. Ascol in the following fashion:
1. 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.
2. 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?
3. 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...
Viewing that Dr. Ascol was having serious second thoughts about participating in the Lynchburg event, I sent an email to Dr. Caner encouraging him to reflect upon my original debate proposals. I honestly hoped that Dr. Caner would consider the original format and parameters that were offered to him in October and then again in February. Dr. Caner responded to my email in the following fashion:
Ergun Mehmet Caner
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 02:11:37 -0400Subject: Re: ClarificationFrom: Ergun Mehmet Caner
This was my one and only reply from Ergun. Please note that Dr. Caner does seem to state that both the debate format and time were apparently agreed upon through the Caners benevolence.
Then, after some rather unfortunate and less than forthright developments with the Caners and Brett ODonnell (I am truly shocked at his actions), the debate in Lynchburg was called off. I then sent the following to Dr. Caner and Dr. White:
Date: Mon, 9 Oct 2006 12:43:53 -0700 (PDT)From: Michael O'Fallon
CC: James White
Greetings Dr. White and Dr. Caner:
While it deeply saddens me that the debate in Lynchburg was not able to come to fruition, I would like to once again extend the invitationboth of you to debate the thesis "Is Calvinism Biblical"coming November 2nd 2006at Walt Disney World in Orlando FL.I understand that both debaters are most likely prepared to debate this topic soshouldn't be any additional stress upon your schedules leading up to the proposed date.If Dr. White feels that the additional stress of a debate before his debate with Dr. Spong would be too much to overcome, please inform all parties cc'd on this email upon reception.
As I am already coordinating the logistics for the Alpha and Omega National Conference and Cruise during that same week, I can easily make the changes necessary in the schedule to accommodate this event.The facility would be the 1,200 seat ballroom at the Hotel Royal Plaza in Walt Disney World ( http://www.royalplaza.com/meetings.aspI would most gladly take care of air fare and a hotel room at the host hotel (even for an extended period of time if desired) for both Dr. Caner and his wife.
Dr. Caner, please be rest-assured that both you and your wife will be treated with the utmost respect and kindness prior to and during this debate.If the above listed date is unworkable, I would kindly offer the dates of October 13th or 14th 2007 in Seattle, Washingtonconsideration.could also arrange to have the debate aboard the Celebrity Mercurysometime during the Alpha and Omega cruise of the 15th through the 19thOctoberour pricing for the 4 night cruise is going to start somewhere in the low $200's, this could bevacation for almost anyone.course, suites would be provided for both participants and their families. I think in the interests of "clearing the air", it would be wise to first consider a November 2nd, 2006 event in Orlando.
Dr. Caner will be allowed to bring a booth for Liberty Seminary as well as for any books or publications he would like to offer the attendees.If both parties are able to participate in this event, I would need to have our logistics and formats contracted with Sovereign Cruises and Events LLC.
The proposed format of the debate would be:30 Minute opening statementsBreak25 Minute rebuttalsBreak15Affirmative Cross Examination15Negative Cross Examination15Affirmative Cross Examination15Negative Cross ExaminationBreak20 Minute Closing Statements30 Minutes of Moderated Audience Questions
As previously stated, round-trip airfare, hotel, and mealsfor you and your wives will be provided by Sovereign Cruises LLC.
Please let me know as to your mutual availability. Soli Deo Gloria,Michael O'FallonPresidentSovereign Cruises LLCwww.sovereigncruises.org email@example.com-SOV-CRUISE
No reply has been offered from Dr. Caner or from his staff. In all of my many years of proposing debates to men of all stripes, I have never had any man completely ignore the proposal without the courtesy of a yes or no. To make matters far worse, I find it troubling that Dr. Caner has posted that Dr. White will not play a game unless he owns the ball, or he sets the rules. Certainly there are rules that all must agree upon before scheduling a debate and someone who owns the ball but this is not Dr. White. However, when rules regarding moderation and logistics are promised, those rules should be respected. All of our debate opponents over the past 10 years have at least been able to submit themselves to their own word. I pray that Dr. Caner will be able to do the same.
Soli Deo Gloria,