Brothers Caner and the Unassailable Doctrine of Omnibenevolence

When I read this last Friday, I simply could not believe the double standard and historical inaccuracies being purported by Ergun Caner. After several long weeks without any response, James White was able to communicate with the moderator as well as Caner concerning the upcoming debate this October. As you may already know, the debate thesis has been the following:

Resolved: That God is an Omnibenevolent God to all of humanity through salvation and opportunity.”

Before I interact with some of the comments made by Caner, let me reiterate the folly of such a thesis. First, the brothers Caner are seeking to debate an undefined topic. Is there a definition objectively or universally understood? Now, as you find out in their recent email exchange, they changed their thesis from the aforementioned thesis to simply “the omnibenevolence of God”. So what exactly about the omnibenevolence of God do you want to debate? How vague, obtuse, and nondescript can one get? The Caners agreed to debate Calvinism. If that is the case, then why don’t they put a thesis out there that at least resembles the purpose of the debate rather than omnibenevolence?

Below are just a few points about what Ergun Caner recently said and my response to them:

  1. Ergun said: You stated that the topic has been “demonstrated to be incoherent.” Actually, the moderator, who has won almost twenty national debate championships, has noted the topic was valid. The large number of encouraging e-mails we have received have seen this as coherent. Apparently the only people who imagine the topic as incoherent are those who simply do not want to debate God’s omnibenevolence. So, if you and your people do not want to debate, simply say so. We want to debate the topic. Just because you do not LIKE the topic does not mean it is invalid.

So simply because a champion debater agrees that the topic is good makes it valid? There have been many that have debated God’s omnibenevolence in the past. Do you know who they are? Atheists. One does not have to look far or Google much to find this to be the case. In all the philosophical and theological journals out there, I have found one, yes one article that deals with omnibenevolence. And do you know who wrote it? An Open Theist. Where? In a philosophical journal. There is a huge assumption with the Caners that the doctrine of omnibenevolence is valid—one that I believe will prove such when the evidence is laid out.

  1. Ergun said: You continue to use man-made terms that you and those of your ilk want to revise (monergism and synergism, hyper Calvinism, etc.). You continue to prove our point – MOST evangelicals, including the millions who support Dr. Falwell, do not adhere to a 16th century movement, or 17th century Dortian parameters. We use biblical terms, in the biblical context.

Caner argues that monergism and synergism are man-made terms devised by Calvinists. Well, how about the word trinity? Monergism and synergism have substantial historical and theological backing having been addressed by both Arminians and Calvinists throughout church history. However, has omnibenevolence been addressed? Talking about a man-made term! “We use biblical terms in the biblical context.” Give me a break! If that is the case, then why build a three hour debate on a philosophical, synthesized construct? Why not just discuss the biblical passages such as John 6, Ephesians 1, or Romans 9? As a matter of fact, Dr. Caner has addressed Romans 9 and defends his eisogesis in spite of what the text says. He asserted, “The full biblical context of Esau, and others that you can cite, is clearly in OUR court.” Here is what Romans 9:10-13 says:

“And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’”

Now consider Caner’s explanation:

“Why did God hate Esau? Because of what Esau did.”

This statement is simply indefensible. Considering the illogical nature of Caner’s defense about Esau, how is one to understand his conviction that his thesis is a biblical term in a biblical context? Having seen how Dr. Caner addresses the Bible, it may be better for him to debate the philosophical construct of omnibenevolence than to deal with exegeting Scripture.

  1. Ergun said: You e-mailed that Dr. Geisler had NOT adequately answered you, which either illustrates your lack of clarity or blind adherence to your philosophical system of Augustinian predeterminism.

It is said over and over that Calvinism is a man-made system either theologically constructed by Calvin (a la Frank Page) or a philosophical system developed by Augustine. If this charge is to hold weight, then Calvinism must be refuted with Scripture. Isn’t that what this debate is supposed to be about? Debating Calvinism? With Scripture? Here’s a great opportunity for Dr. Caner to prove that his argument attack is true. But why is resorting back to philosophy? Why avoid Scripture? Hmmm . . .

  1. Ergun said: James, you claim that we do not understand doctrines? Well, if that is the case, we stand in the stream of the vast majority of evangelicals who will not accept your doctrines of reprobation. In truth, we clearly understand, and we do not buy into it. We refuse to be categorized as Calvinism or Arminianism, Augustinianism or Pelagianism. I am a biblicist and a Baptist.

This must be the new sound-byte for closet Arminians. I am not a Calvinist or Arminian. I am a Biblicist. What is a Biblicist then? One who believes the Bible and develops their doctrines from the Bible? Both Calvinists and Arminians do this. To simply say that one is a Biblicist is to stake a “purist” claim that one is above the “philosophical systems” of Calvinism and Arminianism, that is, to say that not only they don’t need it but are superior to it. Being Baptist is not in the same category of being Arminian or Calvinist, so I really don’t know where he is coming from here. However, one can clearly argue that the founding of the SBC was predominately by Calvinists (for example, take W.B. Johnson, P.H. Mell, James P. Boyce, Basil Manly Jr., John L. Dagg, B.H. Carroll, John A. Broadus, et al.). Here’s my advice to the closet Arminians who want to call themselves Baptist and Biblicists: If you can prove that you are not an Arminian by stating your doctrinal positions on soteriology, then I can assure you that no one will call you an Arminian. Baptists who are Reformed have no problem being called that dirty “C” word. The semantical play of “I know you are but what am I” is good for ambiguity, but there comes a time where, if you don’t want to be defined by others, you must define yourself and your theological construct/conceptual framework.

  1. Ergun said: Until then, I shall just smile, every time I receive some e-mail. Every single e-mail proves our point. Neo-Calvinists cannot answer our points, so you attack us. Classic ad hominem. If our system of theology has brought disrepute to Christian theology, because we do not believe in neo-Calvinism, then we will gladly stand in that stream. From Norman Geisler and C.S. Lewis all the way back, we have church history, and logical biblical thought on our side.

Dr. Caner argued that “Neo-Calvinists” cannot answer his points, so we attack them. Do you see the hypocrisy here? Neo-Calvinists. Why not just call us “hyper-Calvinists” or “super-duper Calvinists”? Any other title works I guess. The Caners did this very same thing on the notorious thread on Tom Ascol’s blog where dozens of folks answered their questions but not to their liking. Here’s what I said in reply:

I am beginning to think that the reason why the Caners’ are saying that “the Founder boys” are not answering their questions is because we are not giving them the answers they are looking for. They are playing the tactic, “You have not YET answered any of our questions” as an equivocation to “You are not giving us the answer we want to hear.” They want to control the conversation by intimidation, rhetoric, delay, and bait-n-switch tactics. The only thing they have yet to due is speak the truth – which unfortunately doesn’t seem like is going to happen. The only explanation left to be shared is silence.

If one looks at the comments to the Ascol’s post, you will find that the Caners can teach us a lesson or two in ad hominem attacks. For example, consider the following:

Have any of you done ANYTHING accept kill your churches with sermons expounding the Westminster Confession?
Probably not.
I would guess that, unlike William Carey, most guys who are hyper about Calvinism use it to justify your laziness.

I BEG of you- PLEASE bring another name to the floor of the SBC. I would be thrilled to watch that person go down in flames, as we enjoy another conservative who has not adopted semi-Presbyterianism. On the positive side, you can always just “punt” and say it was predestined for you to lose.
I do not think of five-pointers as liberals. I will, however, state firmly: Five-point Calvinism is a VIRUS. It saps the evangelism of every church it infects.

The only thing you have in common is what I call the BARNACLE PRINCIPLE- charismatics and calvinists creep into vibrant churches and attach themselves. They do not grow their own movements- they attach themselves to others.

Calvinism has NEVER grown a church. You get transfers, and grow numerically sometimes, but it always peters out, because the people you GET were the people we wanted to get rid of!

NO. Calvinism (5 point) is a Scholastic Theological system. We will NOT let you bogart the term “Gospel.” Especially since the five-point system of Beza (don’t blame Calvin) is not “good news.” It is only good news to those who happen to be in the club.

Do I see as synonymous 5-point Calvinism (supralapsarian) and “Hyper-Calvinism?”
OF COURSE I DO.

In the end- we will NOT go away, and neither will you! That is what makes this discussion good. We have hurdles to leap, and so do you- You guys are mules- you make much noise, but cannot reproduce.

Like the last ad hominem?

No, Dr. Caner, I did not like that ad hominem, but given that you feel like you have the license to say such, then I felt as thought I have the license to post this directly under your statement that all Calvinists do is avoid questions and throw ad hominem attacks. Addressing someone’s statements or critiquing someone’s position is not an attack. Name-calling, lying, slandering for the purpose of insulting or demeaning, this is ad hominem.

“From Norm Geisler and C.S. Lewis and all the way back, we have church history, and logical biblical thought on our side.” I am looking forward to hearing about this. I love church history and try to be a decent student of it. I also love the Bible and try to think logically through it. However, I am not a Calvinist because of history or logic. I am a Calvinist because of the Bible and because of its God-centered focus in salvation and the glory to follow.

Of course, there is much more which could be said about all these points and others which I chose not to address. You have seen the thesis and its basis. You have seen the avoidance of Scripture, the ad hominem attacks, the false labeling, the double standards, the blanket generalizations and assumptions, and uncritical and unfair reference to Calvinism. And all this you have heard from a seminary dean I might add. As Christians who should respect one another and treat each other fairly, why does it have to go to the gutters? Whether you call yourself the intellectual pit bull of evangelical Christianity or not, this is not the way to go about dealing with a debate. We need good, healthy debate in our evangelical world today, and it can be done. But as long as act as middle-schoolers in the cafeteria, people will continue to loathe debates and think less of those who do.

In the meantime, I am going to continue to post my research on omnibenevolence. In case you want to know where I am going with this, here is my four-part outline:

  1. Preliminary Considerations (laying the framework/foundation)
  2. Historical and Theological Contributions
  3. Contemporary Applications
  4. Personal Reflections

Here are my posts up to this point:

******************************
Addressing Omnibenevolence Series:

Addressing ‘Omnibenevolence’ 05.24.06
Denying the ‘Core and Classical Attribute’ of Omnibenevolence? 05.26.06
Addressing Omnibenevolence Series 05.31.06
Part One: Why the Love of God Is a Difficult Doctrine 06.01.06
Part Two: How the Bible Speaks of the Love of God 06.02.06
Part Three: God’s Love and God’s Sovereignty 06.03.06

Note: To catch up on the email correspondence between James White, Tom Ascol, and Ergun Caner, click here. Also, Ascol has recently posted an update on his blog in which he comments on the recent developments.

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25 Comments on “Brothers Caner and the Unassailable Doctrine of Omnibenevolence”

  1. Carla Rolfe Says:

    I’ve been following this from the beginning and I must say, I’m rather impressed with the sharp discernment and accurate insights & comments I’ve been reading from others, who are also following it. Such as your post here.

    It is a shame that the opportunity presented to James White and Tom Ascol has turned into this mess. It is embarassing for the Caners (even though they can’t see it, apparently) that they have conducted themselves in the way that they have.

    My hope is, the debate will still happen, God’s truth will be declared, and eyes will be opened. Regardless of the grade school nonsense going on. If it doesn’t happen, at least a good effort was made for a fair and scholarly debate, and I hope folks also see that.

    SDG…

  2. Sam Hughey Says:

    It was stated by the Caners: Resolved: That God is an Omnibenevolent God to all of humanity through salvation and opportunity. This statement is false because it was not resolved that God’s Omnibenevolence would be the topic of the debate. It is my understanding that Tom Ascol never agreed to this.

    You stated, …the brothers Caner are seeking to debate an undefined topic. Actually, the topic is defined but it is defined only by the Caners and the defintion is to be kept secret from James White and Tom Ascol until the time of the debate. What amazes me is why any Christian would desire to approach this debate with such vague, ambiguous and deceptive tactics. After all, as you stated, it was the issue of Calvinism that was to be debated, not the Caner’s own personal (secret) defintion of God’s Omnibenevolence. Might this be an indication that the Caners are attempting to avoid debating the issue of Calvinsim of which they have clearly shown both an ignorance of facts and an absence of a desire to conduct a Christ-like exchange of views?

    Ergun stated, MOST evangelicals, including the millions who support Dr. Falwell, do not adhere to a 16th century movement, or 17th century Dortian parameters. We use biblical terms, in the biblical context. Have you ever heard the expression that there is more in what a person isn’t saying than in what they are saying? Ergun Caner is proof of this. Ergun Caner wants the reader to believe that Calvinism is based solely on a 16th century movement, or 17th century Dortian parameters, all the while knowing this is completely false.

    Furthermore, how does the word Omnibenevolence fit into the category of We use biblical terms, in the biblical context without any Biblical defintion or Biblical context wherein the word is used? Also, is not the word Omnibenevolence a man-made term since it is not found in Scripture?

    Ergun Caner stated he (and his genre) understands the doctrine of reprobation and they (all) do not agree with it. Remember, it is Ergun Caner who clearly stated, We use biblical terms, in the biblical context. Reprobation is not a Biblical term so on this basis he cannot reject it. Then again, Omnibenevolence is also not a Biblical term so on this basis he cannot accept it, but let’s not assume his reasoning is either sound or Biblical. What he rejects is the Biblical view of reprobation as presented by Calvinism. Reprobation and Predestination are synonomous terms. The Arminian rejects even the Biblical doctrine of predestination (e.g. Eph. 1:4,5) because they claim it violates the sovereign will of the ungodly, another concept that is not a Biblical term found in the Biblical context but Ergun Caner still believes it is in the Bible.

    Ergun Caner stated, Have any of you done ANYTHING accept kill your churches with sermons expounding the Westminster Confession?
    Probably not. I would guess that, unlike William Carey, most guys who are hyper about Calvinism use it to justify your laziness
    . I’ve been a Calvinist for 10 years and at the same church for 10 years and not once has there ever been a sermon expounding the Westminster Confession of Faith. Furthermore, the Evangelistic zeal I have known for the past 10 years has greatly exceeded the Evangelistic zeal I had the previous nine years while in the same camp as Ergun Caner.

    It is far too easy to speak of the ungodly character Ergun Caner is displaying with his insults and false accusations so I won’t go into that.

    Ergun Caner stated, You guys are mules- you make much noise, but cannot reproduce. Is this man completely void of any Christian character? It is a very sad thing to think of Ergun Caner as a fellow brother in Christ and I would be hard-pressed to assure anyone that he is, but that is for God to determine.

    Sam Hughey

  3. Jeff Jones Says:

    I find it really hypocritical that he dumps all over other Christians for using extra biblical terms…

    You continue to use man-made terms that you and those of your ilk want to revise (monergism and synergism, hyper Calvinism, etc.). You continue to prove our point – MOST evangelicals, including the millions who support Dr. Falwell, do not adhere to a 16th century movement, or 17th century Dortian parameters. We use biblical terms, in the biblical context.

    Oops. Hard to avoid all that extra-biblical terminology, isn’t it? I hate it when they throw themselves, unwanted, into my mouth like that.

    Here’s my top 10 list of like terms from his mouth:

    10. “omnibenevolence”

    9. “semi-Presbyterians”

    8. “neo-Calvinists”

    7. “Hyper-Calvinist”

    6. “reprobation”

    5. “the BARNACLE PRINCIPLE”

    4. “Augustinian predeterminism”

    3. “Protestant Scholasticism”

    2. “pimped”

    And, my all-time favourite so far…

    1. “I am a biblicist!”

    Funny, I can’t find that one in my concordance…

  4. Mike Ratliff Says:

    This continual Caner diatribe is very revealing.

    The heart of spiritual blindness is self-righteousness which is rooted in pride. Do you know where the unrepentant spiritually blind “Christian” comes by that blindness? Check out Romans 11:7-8 which talks about God giving the Isrealites who refused to repent a “spirit of stupor.” Then in Romans 1:18-32 we read where God gives people over to what they really worship. In this state they are spiritually blind. They cannot see the truth or understand it unless God opens their hearts.

    How does a spiritually blind person behave when given irrefutable scriptural evidence of Biblical truth? They turn a blind eye to it. They scoff. Their defense is nonsensical to any descerning Christian. Dave Hunt is a prime example of this. “Don’t confuse me with all that Greek!” “I have my KJV and that’s all anyone needs!”

    This is nothing but willful ignorance which is the prime product of spritual blindness. Tom Ascol and James White are very brave men if they are willing to debate logically and biblically with illogical and wilfulling ignorant people who will NEVER be conivinced of the truth unless God breaks through that shell of self-protection they have erected around themseleves as the Spriit of Stupor stiffens their necks even further.

    Sad, very Sad

    Mike Ratliff

  5. Gene Says:

    Ergun stated: Ergun said: You continue to use man-made terms that you and those of your ilk want to revise (monergism and synergism, hyper Calvinism, etc.).

    You stated:Caner argues that monergism and synergism are man-made terms devised by Calvinists.

    Actually, he is arguing both that they are unbiblical terms and that Calvinists of today are actually revising those terms, not merely devising them.

    Really? Who actually defined the term, monergism in its theological context? Has it been revised by Calvinists? Well, since Calvinists are the ones who coined its use in that context, how can we illicitly change that which we coined?

    As to hyper-Calvinism, it was Ergun who revised that one. In his own words, he stated @ Founders:Do I see as synonymous 5-point Calvinism (supralapsarian) and “Hyper-Calvinism?” OF COURSE I DO.

    First of all, Dort is infra not supra. Caner wants to impute Beza’s supra position to the whole of Dort, the WCF, Savoy, and the LCBF2. Problem: these are all infra confessions.

    In addition, supralapsarians and infralapsarians affirm the exact same things about the five points of Calvinism with the same logic and the same Scriptures. Raising supralapsarianism in a discussion of the five points is simply irrelevant. It is useful for intramural discussions between the Reformed about things like the extent of common grace (as in the Dutch Reformed churches) or apologetic defenses of particular atonement (as in the Reformed Baptist churches) or as apologetic defenses with atheists and Open Theists. Frequently, you’ll see an apologetic defense buitl around a supralapsarian theodicy to prove that if moral responsibility can still be proved at that level, then the atheist, Open Theist, or Arminian cannot reasonably refute an infralapsarian view. Oh, and I would add that on an Arminian theodicy, if you follow the order of decrees, they have God decreeing the fall too, the just accord libertarian freedom to the agents, so Ergun would have to adopt a purely Pelagian theodicy to lift all objections to God’s decrees.

    FYI, I think there is something else driving Dr. Caner on this. I hear he recently lost a child/infant. He may be trying to reconcile God’s sovereignty with this event, and, since Calvinists often take a cautiously agnostic (and I would say biblical view) on infant salvation, he may have chosen to attack it and is projecting his anger with God onto the doctrines of providence and thus salvation as found in Reformed Theology. I may be wrong, but I’ve seen this happen in people before.

    Likewise, I’m beginning to think he wasn’t brought on at LU for his scholarship. Rather, he was brought on because of his former religion and is their star “front man.” He is embarrassing his seminary and university from what I gather. I also understand that LU is not what it used to be in terms of the comportment of the students in some cases. Student reports about conditions there make it sound like a very angry place, and a debate there could well be disrupted by the students. I’d expect that at Berkley, not a Christian university.

  6. Allan Says:

    Gene,
    While I appreciate your thoughtful insights, I feel your attack on Caner as well as others on this thread puts you all in the same category as you place Dr. Caner regarding his comments toward the Reformed. What ever happened to bless those that curse you, instead all I see is and eye for an eye regarding put-downs. Yes there is a difference in refuting, correction, and addressing wrong things stated but these are remarks on his charactor, lack of respect for a brother in Christ, assumptions that he is either a liar or a unsaved are also un-Christlike. Let me list some off this thread as my point.

    SAM said:
    “…vague, ambiguous and deceptive tactics” —- He is a deciever

    “…the Caners are attempting to avoid debating the issue of Calvinsim of which they have clearly shown both an ignorance of facts and an absence of a desire to conduct a Christ-like exchange of views? —– clearly ignorant

    “Have you ever heard the expression that there is more in what a person isn’t saying than in what they are saying? Ergun Caner is proof of this.” —– again deceptive

    “It is a very sad thing to think of Ergun Caner as a fellow brother in Christ and I would be hard-pressed to assure anyone that he is, but that is for God to determine.” ———regret and Slandering a brothers salvation

    MIKE said:
    “The heart of spiritual blindness is self-righteousness which is rooted in pride. Do you know where the unrepentant spiritually blind “Christian” comes by that blindness? ———– Spiritually blind and Prideful (of what, calvanism, there is more truth than Calvanism)

    “Then in Romans 1:18-32 we read where God gives people over to what they really worship.” ——–Now he is an Idolater

    “Their (ones spiritualy blind and wont listen to truth) defense is nonsensical to any descerning Christian. —- He is undescerning of truth

    “…they are willing to debate logically and biblically with illogical and wilfulling ignorant people who will NEVER be conivinced of the truth unless God breaks through that shell of self-protection they have erected around themseleves as the Spriit of Stupor stiffens their necks even further.” —– unregenerate – NOT SAVED (the spirit of stupor was given to those who were not believers, Israel, those who rejected Christ)

    GENE said
    “FYI, I think there is something else driving Dr. Caner on this. I hear he recently lost a child/infant. He may be trying to reconcile God’s sovereignty with this event, and, since Calvinists often take a cautiously agnostic (and I would say biblical view) on infant salvation, he may have chosen to attack it and is projecting his anger with God onto the doctrines of providence and thus salvation as found in Reformed Theology. I may be wrong, but I’ve seen this happen in people before.

    Gene, I would state that bringing the death of his child into his theology is not only is inappropriate (REASON: you have NO idea what manner this plays into his theology – and surmising amoung others what one does not know is concidered a definite aspect of gossip, just be careful) but it is also tactless, I am one impressed with how you generally express yourself please take care your rebuttals don’t go beyond something stated incorrect.

    Gene also stated:
    “Likewise, I’m beginning to think he wasn’t brought on at LU for his scholarship.” ———– His education is inadequate for his degree. If I am wrong I appologize but becuase one (of many) differ with your veiws does not make them less scholarly since there are just as many that say the opposite. Admittedly some do vear from their teaching but there are numerous other scholars who back him. Does scholarship make what he is say truth. (which I know you don’t beleive) but, If it did then Jesus would be a liar since He nor any of the twelve had a degree. The only one was Paul and He had a (as we would see it today) secular degree concerning God

    Next you slash at the University as though its “comportment” standards are in decline. Is this verifiable? How many reports are there about how good the school is or what it does?

    Then you compare the school with the most notorious ungoldy school known with that of what is a Christian school as though what you surmise HAS already happened. But that has nothing to do with Caner and his retorts in light of the Word of God.

    If I am wrong in this, then I gladly accept the same in turn, and I’m sorry.

    I’m not a Calvanist but I like the site because I can actually talk to those who hold this veiw without the yelling and degrading I have found on other websites and amoung brether. You give good food for thought and I just want you all to maintain that standing. Am I perfect – HECK NO – but I would that you increase and that the Christ we serve increase more in you. God has allowed me to be a no one, so I can help lift up others to see Christ more clearly.

    There was a pastor who once said:
    I preached Christ scholarly and all the scholars thanked me, then…
    I preached Christ simply and all the sinners thank me.

    Gods love and heart be with you

  7. Allan Says:

    When I say lift up other, I mean to lift up others so the WORLD may see Christ more clearly.

  8. Allan Says:

    Gene,

    I stated:
    “Yes there is a difference in refuting, correction, and addressing wrong things stated but these are remarks on his charactor, lack of respect for a brother in Christ, assumptions that he is either a liar or a unsaved are also un-Christlike.

    These do not all pertain to you but to all who comment on Caner(s) and their views. I am not a Caner[ite] but do believe in the love for the brethren EVEN when and if THEY put you down. Love is not earned it is given. SOrry if I made it sound like it was against you per say, it was not my intention.

  9. J. Gray Says:

    Allan,

    It is true that we cannot be slanderous toward other brothers in Christ.

    But is it not true that a person’s actions reveal their character?

    What do Caner’s actions say about his character?

    Judging by his comments made on blogs, his e-mail correspondence (which I behaved as he did, I would be ashamed if someone posted it as well – despite me telling them it was ok to post it), his sermons, his reputation, and the brief interaction I witnessed between he and a friend of mine – I have yet to see him act in a manner, in ANY of those situations, that was Christ-like, humble, and gracious.

    Now, does that mean he is not a believer? Certainly not. I don’t even want to imply that. But it does mean that his behavior has been, repeatedly, non-Christ-like.

    I wonder, Allan, have you addressed Caner’s slanderous statements? Have you addressed that he considers James White to not be a believer?
    Have you dealt with his statements at all?

    Please don’t make this a Calvinist/Non-Calvinist issue. In my opinion, it’s well past that. I have MANY non-Calvinist friends, with whom I can debate and discuss and it never degenerates into this sort of rancor. The issue is the attitude, statements, and actions of Caner toward those he is supposed to debate (not fight, debate) and toward others online and within listening distance of his “sermons”.

    Allan, I agree that people here and at other sites cannot answer back in the same manner…yet some have. But I wonder if all the hostility and critiques by those that love Caner and seek to attack his “enemies” is ever turned by those same people back on him.

    – JGray

  10. Sam Hughey Says:

    Allan,

    I appreciate your comments and have considered your claim that we have been less than Christ-honoring with regards to our comments. I truly do, so please don’t think I’m being deceitfully courteous. Misunderstandings often occur in text only discussions and sometimes those who object to someone’s remarks find themselves guilty (to some degree) of the very thing they accuse others, unintentionally I’m sure, but guilty nonetheless.

    I must point out that honoring Christ does not mean we are to honor man more than Christ. It also does not mean we are to ignore the less than Christ-honoring comments of others as well as the blatant false accusations made by those people. False accusations are lies when that person knows or should know but doesn’t care if the statements being made are not true. When one makes a knowingly false statement with the intention of causing the reader/listener to believe that statement to be true then that person is a deceiver. Perhaps you don’t agree with this defintion but I would challenge you to prove it wrong. Pointing out the deceitfulness of anyone (even a brother in Christ) is not wrong. Perhaps some go about this a bit misguided and perhaps they go too far but that speaks for itself and that is to thier shame. However, I also find those who complain about what Calvinists say about the Caners don’t complain about the same thing the Caners are saying about Calvinists. I certainly hope you do the same against the Caners as you do us here on this blog and I don’t mean this disrespectfully so please don’t misunderstand me.

    You objected to my statements that Ergun Caner was using vague, ambiguous and deceptive tactics which meant, as you stated, he is a deceiver. My first response to this would be to ask you to prove me wrong, not just simply disagree with me. A mere disagreement does not prove one wrong on that basis alone, as I’m sure you understand and hopefully agree. To draw a conclusion that I am attacking Ergun Caner or falsely accusing him of deceptive tactics without providing any substantial evidence to the contrary places you in the same position of which you think we place ourselves, does it not? Ergun Caner is notorious for inventing terms for the sole purpose of causing his readers/listeners to believe all Calvinists are precisely what he (Ergun) has described in his inventive imagination. Ergun Caner is an intelligent person who has the ability to know and understand the differences that have existed for hundreds of years in voluminous works on the issue of the difference between hyper-Calvinism and Evangelical Calvinism. When the term ‘hyper’ no longer worked in his favor he resorted to inventing his own terms with the intent to cause his readers/listeners to believe him, all the while knowing his view is both historically and literally false. This is what I call ‘deceitful’. So, let there be no misunderstanding, I am definately saying Ergun Caner is being deceitful with regards to this. If you disagree with me, please produce the evidence that proves me wrong and I will confess my sin and make full apology to Ergun, this blog and any who might read it.

    Read Ergun Caner’s own statement to James White and judge for yourself if he is being vague, ambiguous and deceptive: We demand this thesis statement. We will not explain it. We will not defend its awkward phrasing, its ambiguity, the fact that it could actually be used by heretics. It is our thesis statement. We demand you use it, or we will claim you lose!”? This is Ergun’s response to James White and the ‘thesis’ of which Ergun speaks is the Omnibenevolence of God instead of the issue of Calvinism. Ergun also stated this, You want us to define our terms before the debate, which is illogical. Defining terms is part of the purpose of debate. I see no reason to play my cards now.

    You objected to my statements that the Caners are attempting to avoid debating the issue of Calvinsim of which they have clearly shown both an ignorance of facts and an absence of a desire to conduct a Christ-like exchange of views. Again, before telling me that I am ignorant of the facts, shouldn’t you have first asked me to produce the evidence that proves my statement or at least provided contrary evidence to disprove my accusation? Do you truly believe calling someone ignorant of the facts without any proof of such to be Christ-honoring while refusing to make any attempt to correct that person with substantial evidence that proves them wrong? If the Caners are not attempting to avoid the issue of Calvinism in this debate, why then has every correspondence between James White/Tom Ascol and the Caners focused on what the Caners call the Omnibenevolence of God instead of the issue of Calvinism to which they areed would be the topic for the debate in the first place? On the Alpha and Omega site (http://www.aomin.org/ErgunCaner1.html) you will clearly see that Calvinism, not the Omnibenevolence of God, is the initial issue to be discussed but no longer is by the Caners.

    You objected to my statements saying I would be hard-pressed to assure anyone that Ergun Caner is a Christian. It appears as though you read into my statement what you wanted to be there. This is similar to what Ergun Caner does. I stand firm on my statement but not your misrepresentation of my statement. I did not state Ergun is not a Christian, thus I did not slander a brother’s salvation. I stated I would be hard-pressed to assure anyone that Ergun Caner is a Christian, but that is for God to determine. When I see a consistent rejection of God’s law in someone’s life who claims to be a Christian by their continual display of lies, false accusations and deceitfulness I am compelled to at least question one’s salvation. Perhaps this is not a problem for you, it obviously isn’t for Ergun Caner.

    The proof of my accusations is from the mouth/hand of Ergun Caner himself.

    Sam Hughey

  11. Gene Says:

    Allan,

    I have not, of course, “attacked” Dr. Caner without giving my reasons for my opinions, and you have grossly oversimplified. I have leveled my observations about a possible cause of his antipathy towards Reformed theology. In point of fact, I just had a chat with a professor at Duke University a few months ago who defines “hyper-Calvinism” as any theological view that leads to an agnostic position on the death of children and infants,and many laypersons do this as well, so it is not at all usual for people to define hyper-Calvinism this way. On the Founders blog he asked: Do ANY babies die and go to hell? This was also a feature of his sermon, “Why I am Predestined not to be a Calvinist.” I quote:” Not all babies who die go to heaven. They do not say outright that “non-elect babies who die go to hell.” They simply say that they leave such issues to the sovereignty of God. This raises the issue of the very nature of God, doesn¿t it? Thankfully, most theologians through the centuries have denied this teaching.” He has, in point of fact, from what I have been told by many, recently lost a young child or infant and they have noted that his attacks on RT became even more vitriolic after that, and, yes, my contacts at LU, which include a wide range of persons who differ in their placement on the campus, are the ones who have brought this to my personal attention, and, no, not all of them are Calvinists. Unless this is a rumor about his personal life (and I know universities can sometimes do that), then this connection stands out. As I stated, I may be wrong, but I am by no means making assertions that have no warrant or that others have not made to me already.

    Further, I have read him call Calvinists fatalists. He could be interpreting Calvinism through the lens of Islamic fatalism and then, with his understandable antipathy toward Islam, imputing both into the Reformed view of providence. Dr. Caner has been confronted about this very issue by Dr. White, and he has failed to respond. I and at least 3 others explicitly pointed out the difference between fatalism and determinism to him in the Founders thread. He said he answered all the objections put to him. Go back and read that thread. We never received a response.

    You mention the comportment standards and question their verifiability. The answer is, “yes,”I have communication from LU students telling me that he himself enjoys spending time with students and using light curse words in his speech. This makes them think he is a cool guy and not as uptight as the others and still others have stated that those at LU who affirm the doctrines of grace are fearful of their futures if they speak out. Still others have stated that, if there is a debate, that folks should, and I quote, “watch their backs.” Oh, and, yes, in this same vein, he is most certainly in the process of embarrassing his seminary, Allan. I live all of two hours away from LU, and, I assure you that the folks with whom I interact around here, MANY of whom are LU alumni, a great many of whom I have known for upwards of fifteen to twenty years or more, are most distressed at his behavior and have commented on the downturn in the behavior there, including, I understand, some who were at a recent speaking engagement where Dr. Caner was present just a month or so ago right here where I live. Here is one of their students’ comments about Dr. Caner: “You (Dr. Caner) not only have disgraced everything that I thought was what made being a Baptist so great, but you’ve made me question whether or not coming to Liberty was a good idea or not. If Liberty can name you a dean of the school, even after you have outright expressed your contempt for fellow Brothers in Christ, then I am appalled” Here is a comment from one of the students @ their school of law: I am a student at Liberty’s School of Law. “I will be very disappointed if the debate does not occur. Caner and company may or may not realize it, but they are fostering a real hostility among the undergraduates against Calvinist “Infectors.” The “monergist brigade” is small and under fire here at Liberty, so we are urgent to see this debate happen. It wouldn’t matter to us that the debate was rigged to favor the brothers Caner. We just want to see people show up and demonstrate to our antagonistic brethren that we are not alone. Here is a comment from one Forest Aalderlink, a recent graduate: “To keep myself from going off on a tangent concerning Caner¿s character, let me just say that he is one who obviously distorts truth and toys with emotions in an attempt to persuade others to see things his way.” Oh, and he also mentioned that one of Dr. Caner’s frequent attacks was on our views on infant salvation. He specifically leveled it vs. Founders Ministries.

    Here’s another: I had a friend who attended Liberty University (I won’t mention the person’s name so they aren’t beaten) who later saw what Calvinism was actually saying and agrees with it; and I just wonder if it was this type of unfair, dishonest, mean-spirited assessment of others coming from the official level of the school that drove them to study what Calvinists were actually saying. I tell you what, this has revealed a whole lot to so many about the hearts of the leaders at that school … especially Ergun. I mean, how in any manner is he exhibiting Christ-like behavior, at any level?” Let me further add that I hear this frequently from LU graduates that affirm the doctrines of grace. They have told me that the thing that drove them to study them was the meanspirited, dishonest attacks on these doctrines, and, yes, this is exactly how they characterize them. Now, I thank LU for doing this, for it has made many a Calvinist out of these persons it seems, but dare I say that it is better to teach rightly and honestly, even you disagree with something, than not. I learned about process theology, liberation and feminist theologies, and neo-orthodoxy from a Gordon-Conwell graduate who was a new professor, but he presented the material accurately and fairly.

    Here’s Heath Lloyd, LU and SEBTS alumnus: “. . being a graduate of Liberty and Southeastern (there at the same time with “Butch”, as he was known then) I must say that I am in agony at the tenor of this discussion. As a native of Lynchburg, (born there in 1970, parents still live and minister there) and having some intimate knowledge of the Falwell family, I cannot believe that Dr. Falwell could be pleased with the president of the Liberty Seminary. I hope that someone can get all of this correspondence together and forward it to Dr. Jerry Falwell, his son Jerry Jr., and to Jonathan Falwell. This whole episode is sad, and as an alumni of the school I am not at all pleased.”

    I believe it was Dr. White who shared with his listeners on the DL that he was specifically told by an LU student that he should not be surprised if there were cat calls during the debate if it takes place and that he should “watch his back” if he came. I just received word today that some LU students there, because of their position on this issue actually fear for their futures. I haven’t heard talk like that since my seminary days, as I was at SEBTS before Paige Patterson came, when this is what students on both sides of the theological divide at SEBTS said about speaking out one way or the other. Yes, I expect that kind of student behavior of Berkley and, in point of fact, other secular institutions, but not from LU. At those institutions hostility toward Christians and theists in general is quite well known. I am appalled to read multiple LU students who all say the same thing about the hostile climate there, especially at a Christian institution.

    I did not state that his education did not comport with his position, rather that I am beginning to think, because of his comportment thus far and what I from his own work I have read, that his scholarship does not strke me as the only reason he is employed at this particular institutution, nor is it the only thing that is driving Dr. Falwell’s promotion of Dr. Caner. For one thing, Dr. Caner was the one who was adamant that Moses Amyralt believed that he was “elected because (he) selected,” and Dr. Caner called himself an Amyraldian. Amyralidian affirm 4 of the 5 points of Calvinism to the letter. This is not scholarship. Dr. Caner stated that Esau was not chosen because of something he did. This not scholarship. Dr. Caner teaches his LU students, in church history class no less, that Spurgeon did not affirm particular atonement. This is not scholarship. I could list more, but you get the idea, and, no, not all of it has to do with Calvinism, a great deal more has to do with his views on Anabaptists and Baptists and their historical relation. Have you read his selective online discussions with Muslim apologists? I and many others do not believe he would last a moment under the likes of Shabir Ally, again, if this is the level of his scholarship, there’s a problem.

    Here is what one of his students had to say recently in public: I’m serious…they drink in everything he says, taking it as gospel because he has a Ph.D. and he’s the Dean of the Seminary, and he debates Muslims. They don’t bother to question anything he does because they hold him above reproach.” Dr. Caner has been very public, candid even, that it is Dr. Falwell’s ministry that is promoting him, and I would further add that Dr. Caner is quite well known around this part of NC/VA, not for his stand on Calvinism, but because LU has been promoting him to ocal churches in these parts as a former Muslim turned Christian apologist. This is no great secret. His major work has been in Islam, not the topic of Reformed Theology. Why would Dr. Falwell promote this as good theological scholarship in his magazine when he has Elmer Towns who is by far just as contrary to the doctrines of grace as Dr. Caner but is far more well known on this particular issue than Dr. Caner? In fact, some of the folks from LU who I’ve seen commenting on this have stated that Dr. Towns would not only be the better choice, but he would behave in a far more respectful manner. No, there seems to be more to this. He is no scholar on the doctrines of grace, so there seems to be something else going on here besides his scholarship. I simply suspect that a good part of this is the desire of that particular ministry to promote Dr. Caner for his work in Islam along a wider spectrum than what they have thus far. This wouldn’t be the first time that LU has downgraded. If you compare the sermons Dr. Falwell himself once preached on the Old Time Gospel Hour (the ones I grew up with) to what you see today (a few years ago, the promo show accusing the Clintons of conspiracy, the constant prattling on about Liberty Mountain or the latest social or political issue that is fashionable among the fundamentalist set, there has been a downturn from the old days where I could turn on his ministry and listen to some semblance of biblical exposition. Dr. Caner told Dr. White to look to the body of work he has written on the subject. Many of us have looked for it. Do you know what it is? It’s a book of the Convention sermons of past SBC presidents. That’s it. That is the sum total of his and his brother’s work in this area, that, Allan, is not scholarship. I stand by what I wrote. I am beginning to think that Dr. Caner was not brought on for his scholarship as much as his personal background, and, yes, he is most certainly one of their star, if not “the” star front man at present. His sermon on Calvinism, in point of fact, a featured portion of the June issue of the ministry magazine Dr. Falwell publishes.

  12. Gordan Says:

    Hey, to hopefully lighten the mood a bit (though probably not Allen’s) I have noted something in this Caner debacle that I have not seen discussed yet.

    Question: What’s even more pathetic than a 40 year old professor using hip, young language like “pimp” to show how in touch he is with the youth?

    Answer: When he uses that hip language incorrectly.

    It’s like the first time when Mr. Cunningham on Happy Days was told to “Sit on it,” and his reply was, “Sit on what?” His interaction with the slang proved beyond a doubt how hopelessly out of touch he really was.

    Well, Ergun speaks of “pimping” the debate videos to bunches of old ladies. He apparently means by “pimp” something like “to market and/or sell something aggressively.”

    However, this is not at all how young people use the verb “pimp.” For proof, check the popular reality show, “Pimp My Ride.” This show is not at all about selling cars. No cars get sold: they get radically customized. They get extreme makeovers. The cars are overhauled and lots of high-tech, frivolous gear is added for no apparent reason. That’s what it means to “pimp” something in today’s slang. It means a radical, and usually expensive, customization.

    So even as he’s debasing himself in the desperate attempt to show how cool he is, Ergun has proven to be just another middle-aged bald guy. Welcome to the club, Dr. Caner.

  13. Allan Says:

    All I wanted to point out is that few critiqued his message without going after and slighting him. Has he done wrong and inapproprietly? YES. Have those involved in the same e-mails he was conversing with done the same? YES. Have we done the same? Yes. I see no one pointing out their faults, slanderings, and belittlings. While I did state some of the statements of others I find it interesting that you have no problem showing his faults but is that the sum total of who he is? This is NOT a Caner issue, the issue I WANTED (but sadly i’m not as experienced at writing what I convey better at speaking, FOR THAT I APPOLOGIZE and if some felt they were misrepresented I APPOLOGIZE) he just happens to be the topic talked about. However, I see NO LOVE in your writing (for you are all better at that than I am) for Caner as a christian brother, no prayer, or lifting him before God to do all God has called him to. THAT WAS MY POINT. I did want mean to bring contravery, and I hope you will forgive me if that was what was thought or HAPPENED. We do not love sin, but we ARE to LOVE the brethren, regardless – UNLESS- they speak heresy. If that is the case then don’t play around, stand up for scripture and call him a heritic. I will support it if it is true. I am not for one side or the other, I stand in the middle. But if I who am not as learned as you look as see the writtings that stand more against him, than his beliefs, would not other [possibly] find the same. I enjoy this site and only want to see it represented with what you want to represent it as – Christ honoring. Just take care to bring honor to Christ when speaking about a brother. If he sin, do we flaunt it before others or do we address it with strong love and speak highly of Christ in them that they may be ashamed and repent. Anyway – as I stated this is not about the Caners of the world it is about OUR conversation maintaining righteous before the world who is looking for anything to cast another blasphemy at our Christ, and what better than if they are your disciples where is the Love?

  14. Gordan Says:

    Allen, I don’t mean this as an attack, but genuinely wonder if you’ve thought this way:

    When the sheep are attacked by a bear, what’s the most loving thing the shepherd can do?

    Not saying that Ergun Caner is that bear, but his position and seat of influence in all of this, especially as a teacher of young people who are prospectively headed off into ministry, makes this a sticky situation.

    He is not the only one we need to worry about loving here. He is not the only one we need to worry about being Christ-like toward.

    What about the students he influences? What about people who may hear his tirades against the gospel of Jesus Christ?

    I think you will have a hard time finding Christ Himself meeting up with your stated desire for Christ-honoring demeanor in Matthew 23, for instance, as He defends the people from the Pharisees and Scribes. Or with the backsliding Peter in Galatians 2, I wonder if he felt (initially) that Paul had shown him a lot of love by rebuking him publically.

    The Bible’s own pattern is that public misconduct, especially in those assuming to teach the Scriptures, is routinely rebuked publically, and I challenge you to go through those instances of rebuke and hold them to the same standard to which you have held people on this blog.

  15. Allan Says:

    True, but they were rebuked publicly, not to the public. The difference is they (Paul or Jesus) went directly to the person(s) involved in the situation (like scripture says to do when you have a problem with a brother) If your view is biblically correct (meaning they are in sin) you take two others and still if they do not repent you bring them before the church. (I am not ignorant enough to think you do not know this, I’m just restating something known) However, You do not take the person to the public. Paul only did so (advising the public about them) to let others know of the heritics that were preaching false things STILL, and or those who had fallen away from the faith. I have not heard (though there may be one or two) of any who have actually spoken with him concerning the majority of these issues stated herein, or alligation on how his theology was even formed.

    As for the students, I think they are a little better than inept children playing follow the leader just because they agree with his veiws. But even IF so, do not blame Caner, go to the root which were HIS professors who taught him, and theirs who taught them. They are to be blamed as much or more so, for they themselves thought him adept enough to grant a Bachlors, Masters, and then a PH D. Look into his work prior, and you will see he has been tauting the same stuff for a long time.

    ANYWAY… I do agree…yes, I said agree he is in the wrong on how he is approaching the situation. But, I have also read the emails sent to him concerning the same (calvanistgadfly.com), and they are just as condesending, and belittling as what Caner does, but with much more tact. ie…Like a father to an ignorant child. I thought the email exchange was such that I would not want either party representing Christ in this debate.

    One last thing though, is what I said about keeping an attitude of love towards those who may be hostile to those of this site, incorrect. Was I incorrect when I stated the scriptures state “…and they shall know you are my disciples by your love one for another. Was I wrong when I stated scriptures states “…bless those who curse you…” EVERY web site I visit and I see something like this I ALWAYS state the same. I like this site, and I simply said IF I read such and see it as though you are coming agaist one would a logicall conclusion be that others may do the same if they read it as well. As I stated just be careful how we put our emotions on print, for it was well said earlier… it is not easy to type your thoughts in a way that can be misconceived. I am point in case. Bless you brothers and sisters for Christ is our God

  16. Rob Mart Says:

    Check out the Calvinist Gadfly’s remarks concerning the cause of Adam’s sin.

    Here:
    http://www.calvinistgadfly.com/?p=272

    And here:
    http://baptisthistoryandtheology.blogspot.com/

    Interesting stuff!

  17. Nathan White Says:

    Allan, Rob,

    Timmy is on vacation this week and is not in a position to respond to comments, but I’m fairly sure that he’ll want to respond to a few things upon his return.

    SDG

  18. Mark Brown Says:

    Rob,

    All I can say is that I will pray for you. You have an unteachable
    spirit inside you. It is very clearly seen by your interaction on
    the gadfly and founders blogs.

    I read you verison of events concerning the sin of Adam. If people read
    both links the truth of the exchange will be clear. And it is not from
    your site.

    Numerous people have attempted to correct your flawed reading of
    scripture. But it has not been successful. You are now here continuing
    your misrepresentations of calvinism, calvinist, reformed theology and
    very strangely Allan from the gadfly.

    I do not know why you continue to misrepresent those you disagree with
    but it does explain many things I have seen you post on various blogs.

    Again, I will be praying for you.

    Mark

  19. Rob Mart Says:

    Mark Brown,

    Having a different opinion is not to say I have “an unteachable spirit inside” me. I am a Christian and member of a Baptist church.
    You state “Numerous people have attempted to correct your flawed reading of
    scripture. But it has not been successful. You are now here continuing
    your misrepresentations of calvinism, calvinist, reformed theology and
    very strangely Allan from the gadfly.” Of course you would say this because they are Calvinists! I am not a Calvinist. This means there will be a difference in views and opinions. You saying that I misrepresent those who I disagree with is without merit and substantiation. The difference between Alan and I comes from his misunderstanding Jonathon Edwards’ view of the will.

    I will be praying for you, as well

    Robert

  20. Timmy Says:

    Alright, before this gets out of hand, can we get back to my post?

    Rob, I do know you from Founders and the Gadfly and have read your comments. If you have something to say about my post, then please contribute. However, coming over here and posting about someone’s view about a doctrine unrelated to my post is simply unacceptable. While I disagree with what and how you have said things in the past, I am willing to allow your comments beit that they conform to the comment policy with SBF. Please consider this before posting comments in the future.

    Mark,

    If you would like to discuss these matters with Rob, let me encourage you to do so via email. I understand your frustration and am sympathetic to your position, but for the sake of the discussion, I think it would be better for you to address Rob personally and in private regarding those issues.

    I hope the two of you understand. 🙂

  21. Rob Mart Says:

    Mr. Brister,

    Thank you for your generosity and understanding. Please forgive me for not following rule #5. I have read the rules now and I intend on following them.

    Thanks,

    Rob

  22. Allan Says:

    I hope you guys aren’t talking about me cause though I have read Gadfly I have NEVER posted on Gadfly that I am aware of. If not…Whewww..

  23. Allan Says:

    IF anyone is still watching this site, way back up when Gene was addressing me and stating about Caners child “possible” death, I lost track of what he was saying. Was he stating to some babies are elect and others are not? A third person point of veiw will help make sense on it to me, Thanks

  24. Timmy Says:

    Allan,

    No need to get defensive unless the statements stuck in your conscience. 🙂

    Concerning Gene’s position on the election of babies, I think he will be addressing this sometime in the future.

  25. Mark Brown Says:

    Tim,

    Sorry for the post.

    I will not engage rob mart privately. Only in public with
    witnesses.

    And that will not be on this thread.

    Allan, the Allan in question is not you. Sorry for the
    confusion.

    Mark


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