I had planned on writing this post as the only item posted on the blog today. Well, man proposes, God disposes.
Yesterday I received a note from an insightful Muslim correspondent regarding the Ergun Caner situation. He noted that in his talking with other Muslims the idea that I have pursued the Ergun Caner scandal information due to the Calvinist/Arminian dispute, that is, that I have a theological and personal “issue” with Caner. Though I have addressed this repeatedly (note here, for example—and many times on the DL), please allow me to do so with clarity for any Muslims who might be following this situation.
For the Muslim unfamiliar with the issues, a Reformed Christian (such as myself) believes that God is sovereign over all things. That as the Creator of all things He has a sovereign decree and will that He is accomplishing in His creation, all to His glory. As a result, He has an elect people, whom He chose, individually, not based upon anything He foresaw that they would do (His election being from eternity past) but solely upon the kind intention of His will to the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:5-6). As a result, our gospel presentation is very much God-centered, Christ-centered, for we believe Christ is a perfect Savior who saves powerfully and freely. To use a specific term, we are monergists: we believe only one power accomplishes salvation, and that is God’s. He is not dependent upon the creature in any way to bring about His glory. While He chooses to use men and women as the means of accomplishing His purposes, His sovereign decree as the Creator of the universe and time itself will be accomplished by those means.
In contrast you have the Arminians who are synergists. They believe God is trying to save as many people as He can, but that He is dependent upon the creatures’ cooperation to accomplish His desires. This fundamental difference leads to a number of specifics differences relating to specific aspects of Christian belief, mainly relating to the gospel.
Ergun Caner is an Arminian. Well, he’s beyond Arminian. He once said (and our Muslim readers will enjoy this), that Calvinists (Reformed folks) are worse than Muslims. He is passionate in his detestation of Reformed theology, as can be seen by reading the correspondence that led up to the aborted 2006 debate at Liberty (found here).
There is no question that I was aware of Caner because of that dispute. As I have said many times, it never crossed my mind that there were any problems with his claims to be a former Muslim (in fact, I encountered Caner before I began my serious studies of Islam). But once I became aware of these issues, I made them public.
Now the impression among many seems to be that I am lying about my motivations. I have never seen any substantiation given to this allegation, of course. But the reality is, if Ergun Caner was Reformed, I would be significantly more stringent in the standards I have sought to apply to the situation, far more “focused” upon immediate disciplinary action by his fellow elders or by the institution giving him a platform. I would hold him to a higher standard, quite simply. I would be able to count on a higher and more biblical form of church government so that I could go to his elders and seek their intervention and assistance. It would be a completely different situation.
But the fact is that Ergun Caner had fallen off of my proverbial radar screen from early 2007 through mid 2009. The sole reason I have pursued this situation is exactly as I have stated it from the start: Ergun Caner claims to do what I actually do, and hence, to be consistent, to have integrity in ministry, I have to expose the frauds on “my side of the fence” if I am going to be a true servant of truth. I cannot say, “You need to stop following all those alleged former Christians who claim to be Muslims who haven’t a clue what they are talking about when it comes to Christian theology” while sitting idly by while Ergun Caner spins a fantastic web of myth. It isn’t possible. That is why I have done what I have done, not because Ergun Caner is an Arminian.