Despite getting to visit with the kind folks at the Philadelphia airport for far longer than I would have liked, and getting soaked getting from the airport to the hotel (you folks on the east coast have a roof problem—what’s with all this water falling from the sky? Very strange for us Arizonans), I have settled in for a week’s worth of ministry here on Long Island. Tonight I speak in Franklin Square on Islam and Christianity, tomorrow night is the baptism debate, Friday I’ll be on Iron Sharpens Iron once again discussing Islam, and Sunday I’ll be in Massapequa. Yes, I know, I mentioned almost all of that below.
While in the Philly airport yesterday I got on line and for some reason, I’m not sure why, I ended up doing a search on my own name in Yahoo! Now, I normally don’t use Yahoo! for searches, and I’m not even sure how I got into that search (may have been an inadvertent cut/paste), but the first item that came up stopped me immediately. Go ahead and use Yahoo! to search on “James White” and you will find a sponsored link from Dan Corner, yes, that Dan Corner, with the line that begins, “What James White thinks is the gospel of grace is really a license to….” For some reason, at the moment I’m writing this, his website is down so I can’t finish the quote (ironic justice, perhaps?). In any case, I was amazed that a man who utterly unwilling to engage the real issues of soteriology (as documented above) would actually pay money to make that kind of false accusation. Perhaps he is upset that if you Google his name my website is the first up?
For those wondering about the interview I did on Monday with two students from Liberty, I have been informed that they will not be allowed to air it on WWMC. I am not shocked, of course. The young men asked good questions, and their questions reveal the “spin” that is flying around Liberty, for they report, in giving the background, what they themselves have been told by the leadership. As the interview is going to be podcast by them anyway, I am making it available here. It is about 28 minutes in length. Since we got to all of the key issues, it might be a useful link to share with those who want to hear what happened rather than read a lot of documentation. My wife just about spit nails when she heard that the interviewers had been told that Liberty had paid for my plane tickets (that’s just simply untrue, and given she booked them herself, she knows it). “How can people behave like that?” she asked incredulously. Good question, good question indeed.
The audio file might be a good thing to point folks to if they have had the misfortune of reading this article in the Baptist News. You will note that Tom Ascol and I read it differently. That may be because he is a lot nicer than I am, but it also may be because I simply cannot have made it any clearer, said it any more strongly, that the issue here was one side reneging on a signed agreement. Sure there were lots of other issues that came up over the months of negotiation and discussion, but the fact is any report on this situation that does not start, and finish, with that one glaring fact, documented here once again (I like the screen-shot: it is sort of hard to argue with) from Emir Caner’s e-mail of 9/27/06, it has completely missed the point. Instead, the article focuses upon details of discussions from over many months, making it appear that it was a minor dispute over a few minutes, in the end, that mattered. This is simply untrue, but it sure does illustrate why public discourse on political issues is always bogged down in a morass of “spin” that precludes meaningful and unifying conclusions. As long as one side does not want to speak the truth, there is always a way to keep talking about things that just don’t matter. But the part that bothered me the most was as follows:
White disputed the notion that the debate was cancelled over a small amount of time, saying the cross-examination time “was being diminished to the point of being irrelevant.” He also objected to the Caners’ insistence that the affirmative be given the first and last word.
On his website, White questioned the Caners’ intentions, writing, “Upon what basis could anyone trust that the debate would go forward as promised even if we agreed, yet again, to another modified format?”
The only way any of these citations make sense is to make clear note of the pre-existing agreement reneged upon by the Caners! The cross-examination time was but one of a number of issues, including the unilateral granting to the Caners of first and last word, and the over-all time length. But these were minor issues in comparison with the fact that there should not have been any negotiations going on less than two weeks before the debate. Negotiations were over. When you are ten days out from a debate you do not simply write to the other side and say, “Surprise! We are taking over. This is how it will be done, no discussion, we are in charge.”
I checked with my office, and there were no requests made for any interviews from Baptist News. I would have done my best to provide to Baptist News the same kind of full and open responses I provided in the above linked interview with the young men from Liberty. Another sad chapter in this entire saga, one that has shed significant light on the political nature of so much of evangelicalism today.