Remember back in November of 2008 when I was last here in the UK? What happened while I was gone? The John 3:16 Conference and the wild-eyed (and oft refuted) allegations against me of being a “hyper Calvinist,” etc. So what happens this time while I am here teaching and preaching (picture at right from yesterday afternoon’s lecture at Trinity Road Chapel)? Well, I refuted, factually, fairly, and thoroughly, false statements made by Ergun Mehmet Caner, President of Liberty Theological Seminary, on the Pastor’s Perspective radio program (which is broadcast nationally), wherein he says I engage in “formal” debates that are little more than versions of the Jerry Springer Show, and in response you get the “circling of the wagons” syndrome that is so often the hallmark of the Southern Baptist Convention. I first saw this six years ago when I dared to interact with the published views of Dr. Mark Seifrid of Southern Seminary, wherein I sought to provide an answer to his claims that we should not use imputational language in reference to justification, and his rejection of the active/passive distinctions that are so helpful in understanding the righteousness that is ours in Christ. The response of many Southern Baptists was to ignore what I said, and to rather upbraid me for having said anything at all. The truthfulness of what I said was irrelevant to the majority: the fact that I would even speak in criticism of a professor at a Southern Baptist institution was all that mattered.
So now I have another glowing example of the “circle the wagons” mentality of the SBC. I was directed to this amazing blog entry on the SBCToday website. Take the time to review my video (it is embedded in the blog article) before reading Pastor Tim Rogers’ commentary. I don’t know that I have personally encountered a clearer example of “ignore the facts, shoot the messenger, protect anything/anyone Southern Baptist at all costs” in my life. You will note that Pastor Rogers does not even attempt to engage the fact that Caner’s comments were indefensible. That can be easily dealt with by dismissing me as a false teacher somehow in league with the Muslims! Isn’t that ironic? I’m in London, just over 24 hours away from debating Abdullah al Andalusi in public, and 48 hours from engaging Adnan Rashid on the Unbelievable Radio program, yet I am the one in league with the Muslims. And why? Evidently, Dr. Caner is infallible. He can do no wrong. If he says it, it must be true, and if there is video evidence that he’s wrong, well—it must have been faked! This mindset would be humorous if it was not coming from a pastor, an elder, who should surely know better.
I wrote to Pastor Rogers, asking him to interact with the reality of the situation. He sent back two Bible references and a statement that he was praying for me. Here are the two references: 1 Corinthians 3:3 and Romans 16:17. I will let you look them up and get his message for yourself. Evidently, he doesn’t mind making accusations against elders without foundation. No response to my questions, no critical thought evidenced. A sad, sad commentary.
It is not that I am surprised here. Men who promote themselves through the power of their personality (rather than the substance of their teaching) produce zealous followers. The SBC is filled with examples of the Personality Cult. But it thankfully still bothers me to see people claiming to follow He who is the Truth and yet showing so little discernment and so little recognition of truth itself.