I get the feeling Ergun Caner is spending a good deal of time at his computer today. However, all of the responses I have seen so far sort of neglect one little thing: the facts. Instead, he seems intent upon redefining theological terms and misrepresenting others, a sad consistency in what we have seen from the President of Liberty Seminary over the past number of months. The “hyper-Calvinist” label seems to be all he can come up with. For example, he wrote to Gary Fox,
I am standing right here.
I am ready for the debate.
Just because JW has a problem with authority, and cannot manipulate the situation, he backs out.
Anyone who holds to predestination to hell, and the possibility of infant damnation, even in theory, is a hyper Calvinist.
He is hyper Calvinist. Now everyone knows it.
The “problem with authority” means I did not accept Brett O’Donnell’s taking over the debate and throwing out an agreement that even Ergun Caner admitted existed prior to last Wednesday. I am sorry Dr. Caner is choosing to spin this situation and attack me with falsehoods in the process. It only makes the situation worse. I had hoped to not have to do this, but the truth must be known in the face of his falsehoods. Everyone knows he is just throwing dirt with the theological silliness he is putting forth. Remember, this is the man who turned Romans 9 on its head and who teaches his students Spurgeon denied particular redemption. His knowledge of the issues is highly questionable. But let’s keep two things in mind, especially for any LU students who might be dropping by to check on the facts of the matter. First, Ergun Caner has been invited at least five times that I know of to debate me one-on-one, and has a standing invitation to do so in just a matter of weeks in Orlando, in fact. If he is, as he says, “standing right here,” then I invite him to “stand right there” in Orlando. I have actually agreed to debate him the night before I debate John Shelby Spong. Why? Well, Michael O’Fallon at Sovereign Cruises has already paid for the 1200 seat ballroom at the hotel for that night and is willing to accommodate the event. The venue is there, and unlike what has taken place before, we have a long and documented track record in holding to our word and debating fairly. Dr. Caner has none. So, if he is “standing right here” then let him do so in Orlando. I’m willing to do it, is he?
Secondly, we need to establish, with finality, the fact that a signed agreement existed that the Caners reneged upon, even if they are now saying they did so out of some kind of “obedience” to Brett O’Donnell. If it was their view that O’Donnell was in charge of the debate format, why did they bother arguing with us for months on the topic? Why did Emir Caner engage in phone conversations with Tom Ascol if he did not think he had the right to negotiate regarding format and topic? Do the Caners not realize that their current spin means they were negotiating in bad faith only a matter of weeks ago? Such is simply beyond reason. On September 13th Tom Ascol wrote:
I have taken the liberty to go back over Ergun’s email from May 11 and have tried to adjust times to fit into a 3-hour allotment. Following are the results. Please let me know if this is acceptable or if we need to make further adjustments. If this is acceptable then we can all begin making preparations accordingly. If it is not, please make adjustments as soon as possible. Thanks!
As has been the case all along, it took quite some time to get a reply, but Emir Caner did, in fact, respond on 9/27. I am providing a screen shot because Emir Caner includes his signature as a graphic in his e-mails. He has a distinctive sign-off, and anyone who has received an e-mail from him will recognize that this is, indeed, his affirmative, his signature.
According to my system, six minutes (not two weeks) after I received Emir’s note, Tom replied,
Thanks, Emir. I will plan accordingly.
Those are the facts. Now, if Dr. Caner wants to ask his readers to believe that our refusal to allow that agreed upon format, order, etc., to be thrown out unilaterally less than two weeks before the debate means we are “backing out,” well, he doesn’t seem to have a lot of respect for the insight and intellect of his readers. Nor does his constant reference to me as a hyper-Calvinist say much for his view of simple gentlemanly behavior and honesty, let alone for his own scholarship. If Dr. Caner cannot accurately identify the theological position of a Reformed Baptist elder who is active in his own area of expertise (i.e., apologetics with reference to Islam), how can we trust what he says on almost any other subject? This must be the question being asked in Lynchburg by those concerned with the integrity of the seminary located there.
Finally, I would direct anyone interested to my response to Ergun Caner’s sermon at the Thomas Road Baptist Church earlier this year wherein he hammered away on the “infants who die in infancy” issue, assuming, incorrectly, of course, that it is definitional of our disagreements. It is not, nor is it the simplistic issue Caner makes it out to be (if you are comfortable making abortion the greatest heaven-filling device ever devised by man, then go ahead and take the simple route. If you are not, you might want to consider giving God the same freedom in saving infants He has in saving adults in light of the reality of the doctrine of original sin and the fact that even infants, fallen sons and daughters of Adam, would require the positive extension of grace to receive salvation). I addressed the topic during the course of the program. I invite in particular LU students or anyone who is in agreement with Ergun Caner, but who has never taken the time to listen to the other side, to download my reply to Ergun Caner’s sermon.