Monday, June 26, 2006

Update #2 on the Caner "Debate"

I hate to do it but I do not see any way to avoid this post without being accused of being unfair to Dr. Ergun Caner. I have not posted any emails regarding the Caner "debate." Dr. White has done so after agreeing to post them in their entirety. Even then, he waited until the obfuscation became so bad that meaningful communication almost totally broke down. You can read the whole exchange here.

Recently, after the latest salvos from Lynchburg and a troubling conversation with Dr. Caner in Greensboro, NC, I weighed in with one of my few contributions to this written exchange. I post that letter, and Dr. Caner's response, below only because he has asked me to do so. Actually, to say he "asked" is putting it charitably. I have been restrained in making many public comments about the "debate" or about the incredibly frustrating process of trying to get it set up.

When I announced that there would indeed be a debate and that I had agreed to participate in it, I made these statement:
I am praying that this debate will bring honor to our Lord by showing how brothers can disagree strongly and decisively without resorting to the kind of name calling, misrepresentations, distortions that too often characterizes disagreements on this issue. I am also praying that the Gospel of God's grace will be set forth clearly and simply; that God's Word will be accurately handled; that truth will be honored and error exposed. I have no doubt that not only James, but also Ergun and Emir would join me in saying "Amen" to these petitions offered to our Lord. As God brings this to mind, please pray to this end (emphasis added).
Let me simply say in the three months since I wrote that I have been completely disabused of such naivete. Make no mistake, Dr. Ergun Caner does not want to participate in a scholarly debate on the doctrines of grace. That is obvious to me and, if my email is any indication, to countless others who have read his comments.

With that being said, here is the recent email exchange, posted at Dr. Ergun Caner's request.

From: tomascol
Subject: Re: June 23, 2006
Date: June 24, 2006 2:42:15 PM EDT

Brothers:

I find Ergun's characterization of this whole issue to be far different from my own. I have read every single email that has been exchanged and would do so again except that I don't think I have sinned sufficiently to warrant such a sentence. It is enough to know that the record contained in those emails is clear enough to show anyone who wants to know about this pseudo-debate exactly what has transpired and how it has transpired.

Ergun, I do not know how or why you think that we have all agreed on the thesis or format. You have tried to dictate what they will be but there has been no negotiated agreement. Furthermore, Dr. O'Donnell's only email leads me to doubt the sincerity of his assurances to be an impartial moderator who will operate from the the rulebook of "fairness." His offer to entertain "specific questions about the format" as long as they are asked "professionally" rings hollow in light of my May 16 email to him. I did not copy it to anyone else because I was simply seeking to learn from him the best way to get information about the format.

Here is that email in its totality:

Dear Dr. O'Donnell:

I have been told that you have agreed to moderate a debate on October 16, 2006 at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. I am supposed to participate in that debate and have some questions about it that I would like to ask you. Would it be possible for me to address them to you via email, or would a phone conversation be better?

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Tom Ascol
I sent it to directly to him. Yet, I still have not received even the courtesy of an acknowledgment, much less an offer to entertain my questions. As the written record demonstrates conclusively, this kind of treatment is typical of the lack of respect that has been afforded James and me in this whole process.

No amount of posturing or posing can change the fact that you have attempted to throw numerous roadblocks in the way of this debate. Virtually any prospect of having a fair exchange of ideas in a setting where our differences can be clearly expressed has been undermined by your unwillingness to discuss questions that must be settled before such an exchange can take place. I suppose that this sounds like whining to you. To me, it is an honest attempt to dialogue.

Ergun, when you told me and others in Greensboro about Dr. Falwell's plans to "pimp" this debate all over the world I was caught off guard. At first I thought I had misunderstood you but your repeated declarations that he was going to "pimp" it on TV and "pimp" it to "little old ladies" quickly disabused me of that notion. Your emails of the last two days have only confirmed my worst fears that your chosen vocabulary to describe this "debate" is all-too-accurate.

Well, I am no one's prostitute. And I refuse to be "pimped." If you are comfortable letting Dr. Falwell "pimp" you then that is surely your prerogative. I would love to pursue a genuine, theological debate. If that is what the Drs. Caner want, then let's work it out and get it done. If, however, all you want to do is put on a Fundamentalist burlesque show, then go ahead with the plans that you are making but find yourself someone more suited than I to join you on stage.

Sincerely,

Tom

Here is Dr. Caner's response:

From: erguncaner
Subject: Please Post This, Dr. Ascol
Date: June 26, 2006 8:48:57 AM EDT

26 June 2006

Dear Dr Ascol:

Well, for the first time in this discussion, I have come to the conclusion that posting private correspondence, which usually takes place between Christian gentlemen behind the scenes, might be helpful if posted. This is one e-mail that I believe should be posted, but I doubt if you will do it. This will stay private, or scrubbed, much like Brad Reynolds exchanges:

  1. For the record, your quote of my words at the SBC was correct. I did use the word "pimped."
  2. I do love the fact that Dr. Falwell is willing to give this debate as big a stage as possible.
  3. He believes, as we do, that this is a vital issue in the SBC, and MUST be confronted to as large a crowd as possible.
  4. Of course, since no one is making any money on this debate (as Emir and I stipulated- no tickets and no "entry fees") your concern over being "prostituted" is not really valid.
  5. HOWEVER, before you storm off...please do not feel too superior. Would it change the equation if we were offering to pay you for doing a CRUISE to teach?
  6. Yes, Dr. Ascol, we understand your desire not to be pimped. Does that extend to traveling on a cruise with Dr. White...along with others...for free...as the advertised speaker? Apparently I am not as accomplished at this "pimping" thing...

I am sorry you feel the way you do, Dr. Ascol.

emc



332 comments:

1 – 200 of 332   Newer›   Newest»
Michael Herrmann said...

Brother Tom,

What a sorry state all of this has come to.

Dr. Canner tells of how Dr. Falwell is going to "pimp this debate to the world". He tells outright lies, claming you have agreed to things you have not agreed to. His behavior is Juvenile and arrogant.

It's hard to know what to make of this. Where is the brotherly correction and advice he should be receiving from inside Liberty? I suspect that most everyone is afraid to address him about this or he is living in an echo chamber and no correction comes his way, only affirmation.

It's truly sad but what's even sadder is that I'm not altogether surprised.

My encouragment to you and James is to take this opportunity to be a light in front of the students attending this debate. Take charge of it, as James dad recently advised him.

Years from now you will be proud of standing up for God's truth.

You and James are in my prayers.

Michael

Uncialman said...

And for the record, I just sent the following to Dr. Ergun Caner:

Greetings Dr. Caner,

I pray that this message finds you well.

As the first responder in the debate saga that began in February and continues to unfold to this day, I felt compelled to reply.

Firstly, if you would please carefully examine the advertisements for the 2006 Alpha and Omega Cruise, you will discover that Dr. Ascol is not speaking on the cruise this coming November.

Secondly, it is Sovereign Cruises LLC, not Alpha and Omega Ministries that will be sponsoring the conference in November.

Thridly, I would certainly hope that the __expression that you have used, "pimping", would not be used in any of these contexts. That term connotes someone finding customers for prostitution and I certainly don't believe that any of the beforementioned activities such as the "debate" (although it vastly differs from the debate and topic that was initially proposed by me; and actually vastly differs from any theological debate that I have ever witinessed), speaking at conferences, or in this case our annual ministry cruise constitute "pimping". As our goal in any of these endeavors is to examine our presuppositions and positions in the light of God's Word, I hope that reverence and respect for the weight of these issues would be respected. To that end, I sincerely hope that a debate format such as the one originally proposed this past February will be used so that all four parties will be able to carefully and thoughtfully present their positions and sharpen one another, for the sake of the body of Christ, during your time together.

I look forward to putting together a meaningingful, scholarly debate together with you and Dr. White in the future that would be similar to the ones that were proposed in November of 2005 and February 2006 prior to the Liberty announcement.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Michael O'Fallon
President / Director of Sales
Sovereign Cruises LLC
www.sovereigncruises.org
877-SOV-CRUISE ext. 3


I do pray that all involved will allow for a tried and tested fomat in the debate proceedings with a clear and definitional thesis statement.

Sojourner said...

I wasn't aware that a Christian gentlemen pimped anything whatsoever. Sounds more like another sort of "Gentlemen's Club" to me, and one that I am glad that you are not involved with, Pastor Tom.

As an addition, I just want to add that the implication that being paid for doing ministry is somehow prostituting ourselves is just ridiculous and offensive. I am grieved that you have had to endure such insult, pastor. The Lord will judge between you and him for such careless and graceless words.

jbuchanan said...

Tom,

This debate is going to be a disaster and you should back out of it. I have stated my position several times on this blog and I hope that you will take it seriously. This debate will end up doing more harm to the movement that you are working for than it will do good. I was very impressed with the Mohler/Patterson debate and felt that it moved the conversation forward in the SBC. As both Mohler and Patterson pointed out, this is a debate among friends and we should remain cordial. The upcoming debate in Lynchburg has already turned sour and I feel it will turn into a complete debacle. Bowing out of the debate would obviously allow the Caner's to claim victory and that is fine. Goding through with it in my opinion would be worse.

I really like you Tom and I agree with a good deal of what you are trying to accomplish but why make a devisive issue or more divisive by participating in such a debate. Who's mind will be changed? What purpose will be served? How will such a debate bring glory to God?

Stephen A Morse said...

Dr. Ascol,

I agree with Michael, this is a sorry state.

My first, second and third reaction to all this is yuck! Is it still possible to 'be the light' by participating in this? Concerning the apparent 30% of us who think that you all ought to back off... when does this begin to represent casting pearls before swine?

Alex F said...

Not that my opinion is worth much, but...

I'm starting to think that its time to pull the plug. I don't see much that would be good and edifying coming out of this debate and am not sure it would be worth the time and preparation it would require.

The participants will be talking past one another. You will present reasoned, logical, biblical arguments. They will, in all liklihood, use bombastic rhetoric and showmanship to play to the partisan crowd. There's also the real danger that the debate could turn into an opportunity for snippets and soundbites to be disseminated that would distort both the issues and make you appear the fool.

Of course you might catch a lot of flak for backing out. They will portray you as intimidated and running away with your tail between your legs. So you'll have to decide if its worth it or not.

Mark Fuss said...

I believe we should stand for truth, but this has turned into an argument. My prayer is that you will back out now. I know that is what the Caner brothers are trying to get you to do, so give them their way.

Kristy

Roy Hargrave said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Roy Hargrave said...

Gentlemen, we are afraid to say enemy, but Jesus said, pray for your enemies. They must be recognized as such before Christ's commandment to pray for them can be carried out.

John Minter said...

I am really saddened by this sorry state of affairs. Jesus Christ taught that "you shall know my disicples by their their love for one another." I see more rancor than love in this. Where is the spirit of correction in all humility? And the use of the term "pimping" by a Dean at Liberty U. to refer to ministry is reprehensible. Can all the elders in the Liberty faith community approve of this? My ardent prayer is that they take appropriate action to remedy the situation. I am caused to pause and ponder just how Jesus Christ can be glorified by public posting of this behavior on the part of those who name Him as Lord...

allofgrace said...

It's so sad that someone who calls himself a Christian and a gentleman, could use such immature language in discussing an upcoming debate. However, having heard Dr. Caner preach at my church, I must say I'm not the least bit surprised. I have to join my voice with the others who question whether going through with this "debate" will accomplish much. It's difficult at best to even carry on a reasonable conversation with someone with such an arrogant, swaggering attitude, much less a serious debate over the weighty issues at hand. I will pray for you Dr. Ascol, and Dr. White, that God will give you wisdom in deciding whether or not to go through with this.

Michael Herrmann said...

Tom and others who have commented,

I understand the disgust and concern caused by the Caners behavior. The pearls before swine comment ran through my head as well.

But when I consider what might be gained by contending for the faith before students who, I'm afraid, are feeding on a lot of junk food, it brings to mind the minister described in 2 Timothy 4.

He's to "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching."

This is definitely an out of season situation. But James White's comment about having heard from some of Dr. Caner's students in "abject shock" about Dr. Caner's comments in Romans 9 gives me hope that light will be shed by Tom and James and support will be given to other voices at Liberty. How can the scholarly presentation of the doctrines of grace not show the superficiality the the Caner's teaching?

Contend, my brothers!

Michael

David B. Hewitt said...

Hey, all. I expressed my thoughts on the matter this morning in an email to Dr. White about it. With his permission, I will post it here. I hope that in it, there can be an answer to the question(s) posed about whether or not God can be glorified in it:

----------------------------------
Dear Dr. White,

I have read through the posts on you site over the last day or two about the supposed debate in Lynchburg that is up in the air at the moment. Honestly, I'm not sure what to say about it; it has been a mess. The concerns one writer had about you beginning to sound like Caner -- I was concerned that might happen as well, that is, until I read your response to him over the Romans 9 passage he flat out rejected as truth. In that, you didn't sound like him at all. :)

It would appear that Dr. O'Donnell hasn't moderated any theological debates, which is why there is all of this confusion on his part. He seems to want to treat it like some sort of political presidential exchange, and as you know far better than I, this won't work too well for a theological debate (the whole issue of a well-defined thesis, etc).

So then, the main reason I am writing this email rather than catching you in channel is that you are taking a head count apparently of whether or not a debate will happen, or at least asking people what their thoughts on the matter are. Well, I have to admit that my thoughts run both ways for reasons you've brought to light, but I'll do this:

I'll cast my vote, for what it is worth, for you to pursue the debate. I love what your father said about it.

I'll surely be praying for you about this. What I suspect will happen is that there will be a TRBC building full of Liberty students and church members who are coming to hear "their guy" beat down those "heretical hyper-Calvinists" and they are going to want Caner to show how you've misinterpreted the Bible. Well, it seems painfully obvious that he is not wanting to do that. So, when he gets up and rants, uses terms inapprpriately (and when you and Tom correct him and define them rightly), people will see that he is erring. They will think to themselves, "Ok, they said he used the term wrong. They provided the historical definition of it, let's see what he says," and then Caner will just torch another straw man. Many in the audience will be shocked; "Surely Caner will refute them -- surely he will..." and it will never happen.

Then, when you and Tom discuss the Scriptures, beautifully exegeting them and demonstrating clearly the truth of the doctrines of the grace as they rest on the Scriptures alone, these same people in the audience will say, "Ok, the Calvinists (not hypers mind you, Dr. White, because rational people will have stopped using Caner's mischaracterizations at this point) are providing Scripture references. It even sounds like they are interpreting them properly, surely Caner will show them how badly they are using the Scriptures," and then it won't happen. Dr. Caner will NOT use proper hermeneutics at all, and his fans, now probably former fans, will be shocked and surprised. They'll begin to realize that he has been fooling them all along, and that the truth of Scripture is the very thing he's been railing against now for months.

Maybe, just maybe, God would be pleased to use this debate (which will be very well publicized), to further the Reformation of many a heart and even the Southern Baptist Convention (since most SBCers haven't a clue what biblical soteriology is anyway).

I hope, my brother, that you find this email encouraging, and that you will persevere and press forward this October. My prayers are with you.

A Slave of Jesus Christ,
David B. Hewitt

joethorn.net said...

I am less concerned with the use of the word, "pimped," and more concerned with the attitude of Dr. Caner - though I get what Tom I saying in terms of this debate being used to exploit/propagandize. Caner's combative tone and condescending attitude is more than I can stomach. Thankfully, Dr. Ascol is an encouraging example of patience and humility in all of this. Brother, you have handled this exchange very well. I hate the idea of pulling out, but don’t think staying with it is wise either. I am praising God that I do not find myself having to navigate this issue personally. In light of all this I am praying for you and James and the Brothers Caner as well. Keep standing for truth in the grace of our Savior.

pastorleap said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phillip M. Way said...

Go through with it. Go and stand with honor, dignity, and grace as you present the Word of God to those who need to hear it. Who knows who might be sitting in that audience to hear the truth and respond to it as the Spirit sovereignly does what He wishes!

The Word never returns void and here is an invitiation - no matter how ungracious it has become - to preach the unhindered, powerful, active, and alive Word of God!!

GO. Please go! Please, please, please!!

~Pastor Phillip M. Way

Calvinism & Arminianism said...

Dr. Tom,

you guys should NOT be the ones to give in. Make no mistake, you will be seen as giving in and giving up. The only way God will not be glorified in this debate is if it never takes place. The reason I know that is because you and James are good people. You guys are lights in a dark world. The light will overcome the darkness that only comes from human pride and arrogance. Allow the Word to speak for itself and watch God do the rest.

Before you think about quitting Tom, ask yourself this: why in the world would any Christian who holds the truth back away from debating the Word of God in public before an audience who wants to hear the truth? What reason is there?

GeneMBridges said...

I would like to thank Dr. Caner for admitting to the substance of the objections about the topic of the debate as demanded by the Caners. Dr. Caner, apparently, didn't bother to think before he wrote about that or a couple of issues:

a. He writes: This is one e-mail that I believe should be posted, but I doubt if you will do it. This will stay private, or scrubbed, much like Brad Reynolds exchanges:

Notice that he mentions private exchanges with Brad Reynolds about some unknown topic. Apparently, Dr. Caner objects to the publication of private correspondence for the purposes of commentary and quoting others' accurately, but feels free to mention private correspondence with Brad Reynolds.

b. In his email to Frank "Centurion" Turk, Dr. Caner replied:

Apparently we have discovered the one topic a hyper Calvinist is not comfortable debating...his own presuppositions.
It seems debating the nature of God and His attributes is not to Dr. White's liking.

Why mention this? Well, one of the problems that folks have had with his thesis statement is that it trades on assumptions about God's character and acts in an attempt to beg the question in favor of those arguing for the thesis and not against it. The insinuation is that if the Calvinist denies the omnibenevolence of God, He denies God is all good and all loving. This is proof of the Caners' counterargument.

However, this is not the Calvinist position. The Calvinist position is that God is not all loving in the sense that He loves all persons the same way, not that He is not all loving or all good at all. Rather the Calvinist argues that God is fully loving and fully good and fully just and fully merciful, fully holy, fully powerful, and fully independent of His creation. All of these play into God's "omnibenevolence," and in fact a good theologian would recognize that there are incommunicable attributes of God that underwrite the communicable and would seek to examine the selected attribute of omnibenevolence (which is not in any standard theology text on Theology Proper that I can find, and I even have Oden's set, so I'm not looking in Reformed texts only), in light of others like God's justice, immutability, and independence. How do these affect how we view His love? This way of looking at God's attributes and His love is not a presupposition brought to Scripture; it is a conclusion derived from Scripture itself, since Scripture includes all of this information. Thus, the objection raised by the Caners trades not only on a straw man of the other position, but it assumes what it needs to prove about the contrary position and falls victim to the grounding objection itself. That is the very definition of a presupposition that is assumed without benefit of argument. What's more, it is used to skew the debate topic in their favor. Dr. Caner is, therefore, guilty of mirror-reading, by imputing to his opponent a standard that he himself holds and then chastising them for failing to measure up. He is doing that which he claims of his opponents in demanding this thesis statement without more clarity. This is a tacit admission, therefore, on his part, that the substance of Dr. White's objections about the thesis statement are valid.

brucewright said...

Thank you Drs. Ascol and White for confronting doctrine that has caused me years of anguish. I'm sure you will be helping many other simple folks like me.
Love in Christ, Bruce

John said...

Dear Tom,

Some guesses of what might be in store if you go ahead with the debate:

Notice that he denied that there will be charge for admission but not that there will be a video made. It may be that they plan on making a video (and/or DVD) and distributing it in exchange for a hefty donation. The big catch: it will most likely be heavily edited to make you look bad and their guy look good. I've worked as an editor and editors can do amazing things. No matter how good you do in person, you can be made to look bad on an edited DVD.

The crowd won't be with you either. And that makes a difference as to the chemistry.

Instead of simply backing out, why not propose a compromise: a change of venue (to Southern Seminary, with Mohler moderating or, if they think that's too biased, to Southeastern). And be sure to get some promises in writing about the video! That is, if you decide to go ahead with it which I'm not necessarily advising you to do.

hashbrown said...

Looks like the more contention that can be stirred up about the debate, the more of his upcoming books Ergun will be able to "pimp".

I suggest going to the debate and 1 hour and 50 minutes into the debate james and tom ask the audience if they would like to keep going another hour.

I also suggest that Tom call O'donnell. Even though there will not be a record of the conversation. Heads tend to be cooler on the line than behind the keyboard. I think that would move everyone a little closer to closure on this.

Let me also PIMP my blog HashBlog so that you can see cute videos of my twins and I can use the word one more time.

WorshipLeader said...

Hello gentlemen. I am a new post-er but have been following this blog and others for several months. I've been following this debate from the begining and have been overwhelmed with the amount of rudeness, resistance for transparency, and sheer ungodliness that has been desplayed throughout this whole situation. I have been very sympathetic to jbuchannon's ongoing call for you to drop out now before the "movement" will be dragged through the mud. I agree 100% with him that this will likely be the outcome, but the problem is that if you're not there, then it will just be someone else. The Caners will continue their attacks as will those of their thinking. I have every confidence in you and the level of biblical fidelity and integrity that you strive for. I don't know that there would be a better choice to stand the onslaught and then direct everyone toward the Word, giving God the Glory in all things including Salvation. Thank you for your ministry and the teaching you do through this blog.
Ron

james said...

I have tried to follow the issues surrounding this debate and the things Drs. Caner have been doing as much as I can. I wish that I could say I am suprised with the actions of Dr. Caner, but like Dr. Falwell, he reveals a certain propensity for being unable to keep his toungue under control. Instead of speaking as a believer ought, he speaks harshly and rashly, doing all short of uttering profanity in his public discourse and yet continues to claim to be a child of God. I do not doubt his salvation, since that is not for me to know, but I do not detect in his writing or his speaking any signs of meekness, humility or gentlness, and this is a troubling thing to see in one who I would like to call a brother in Christ.

I know some might think you and Dr. White should withdraw and a part of me thinks that might be a wise course. However, what good would come from that? Drs. Caner would slander and malign your motives for leaving and his words on the matter would travel far and wide through the pages of Liberty publications and other outlets sympathetic to his brand of Christianity. I would encourage you, Tom and James, to persevere, contend for what is right, put up with the slander that is yet to come but do so with an assurance that comes from Him who saved you and be gracious beyond measure.

I want to echo sentiments that I first heard from Dr. Mohler: if we really claim to understand and believe the doctrines of grace we should be the most gracious people on earth. I want to encourage you to continue on, attend this 'debate,' represent the truth of the Gospel and do so as one saved by grace, sustained by grace and destined for glory because of grace. Always seek to exhibit grace beyond measure.

No matter what, the Caner's will claim victory. But if you can simply go and exhibit grace you will have won a victory more potent than anything the Drs. Caner can print about or claim to have achieved.

John said...

To those who want Dr. Ascol to attend the debate,

as I mentioned earlier, it will not just be the people present in the auditorium who will see it but most likely the debate will be vidoed, heavily edited, and then circulated, perhaps in exchange for donations. That they've already admitted that they'll somehow make money off of it and yet they're not charging admission seems to me to lead to the conclusion they'll use audio or video of it to their advantage. I believe it is very important that there be some kind of protection over audio and video reproductions of the debate, perhaps that it not be edited in any way. Otherwise, no matter how good Dr. Ascol does in person, he can be edited to made to look (or sound) like a bafoon. Beware.

brucewright said...

This controversy has cleared up many difficult issues I've had. Just by reading the interactions of the many brethren one can glean many truths. Please continue - I NEED TO KNOW MORE. It's very liberating for someone new to "The Doctrines of Grace" God Bless all of you.

Christopher Redman said...

Though Ergun "may" be regenerate, he has taken the broad road of taking arms against the truth. His primary motive seems to be shock and awe with a manner that smacks very much like the "pulpiteers" Martin Lloyd Jones lamented in days gone by.

Finney was an enemy of the truth. Arminius was an enemy of the truth. Pelagius was a heretical enemy of the truth. I now conclude, Ergun, has, by his own arrogant, self-absorbed, and ridiculous assertions, positioned himself as an enemy of the truth.

"You shall know them by their fruit" (works?)

"For satan himself appears as an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works." (fruit?)

Less anyone think I'm to abrupt, may I ponder the question - What would qualify as an enemy of the gospel were Paul making the charge?

CR

Timmy said...

Tom,

Having on a second to comment, I have not read all the comments, so if this has already been said or out of line with the discussion I apologize . . .

There are several factors I assume that would determine whether to debate or not to debate. Ultimately, will any of this glorify God and explain/defend the gospel? Aside from personal repute or winning an argument, will the Spirit of Christ be exhibited not only in His Truth but in His fruit?

What troubles me is the idea that evangelical Christians cannot debate one another. Debate is deemed a divisive exercise and should not be. If we cannot debate with maturity, respect, and grace, then the issue is not with debating but with the one in the debate. This has been the case here; however, I am afraid that the whole idea of debating is going to get the black eye with the larger audience who will think that nothing good could come out of it. I maybe wrong, and I hope that I am.

Also, I can't help but think what this past year has shown me when dealing with Arminians (or "biblicists"). While there are some Arminians who are conversant and willing to discuss the matters while showing love for one another, many simply want to mischaracterize us or redefine us according to their terms. Furthermore, Calvinists are charged with killing churches, being a virus, anti-Great Commission, etc. There are sites like BaptistFire (now gone), the flyswatter, and the Caner brothers slandering and mistreating their Calvinist brother. It is fine if they disagree, but the underhanded tactics is simply deplorable whether you are a Calvinist or not. But what shall I say also of the numerous pastors who have consistently and persistently constructed straw men and in so doing attacking a Calvinism that doesn't exist? Yes, Calvinists have become the whipping boys in the SBC.

With the recovery of the gospel, I pray that there will be the ability to have healthy discussion and meaningful interaction with those we disagree. Ultimately, the issue is not whether we can debate or not but whether we can handle the truth.

scripturesearcher said...

WHEN, not IF ~

the "debate" occurs ~

Drs. Ascol and White can expect the same three responses that Paul received after preaching the TRUTH in Athen, Greece (Acts 17).

Have one or more friends video the "show" and if the Caners (and Falwell) edit and distribute their version in an effort to discredit the TRUTH voiced by Drs. Ascol and White....

the unedited edition can be used to
prove the dishonesty, unfairness and lack of Christian integrity of the Caners and their company.

Personally, I would never hesitate to preach/teach the TRUTH anywhere
God directed. I have been doing it for more than 53 years.

What an opportunity to display Jesus Christ and present the TRUTH
to many (MANY) who have never heard
scriptural Christianity!

Sean said...

I write this with hesitancy and a grieving heart over this issue. I wonder if a non-believer would happen upon these blogs and see the exchanges by believers. What would their response be to this childish behavior by Dr. Caner. I believe that Tom, you and Dr. White, must prayerfully seek the guidance of the Lord in this manner to see if it is advisable and glorifying to Him to continue. Has this become a contest about "winning" under the disguise of getting the truth out to a captive audience at TRBC? I hate to say anything negative about another brother in Christ, but I do believe that Dr. Caner is showing his true colors as a bully and one who is "predestined" not to listen to reason. Can you guys seriously go into Lynchburg and expect to get not even a fair hearing, but any type of hearing. Does the format of the debate the way it stands now even allow for true exegisis? Not really. It will become a bunch of bombastic slogans and eloquent fundamentalistic rhetoric coming from the Caners, as you and Dr. White attempt to gently and humbly seek out the truth from the TEXT. That is my concern. This has become an issue over personalities, character, and behavior and not about the TEXT. That is why this debate was scheduled in the first place. I believe that Dr. Caner (while I believe he is an inerrantist and respects the Word) will allow his Arminian tradition to cloud any serious exegetical study of the key texts of Scripture. Let's face it--on a logical and exegitical level, Dr. White will trash him to pieces in a heartbeat. He knows he has no chance.

Here's my recommendation--do a joint book like Dave Hunt's "Debating Calvinism" which will force him to articulate his thoughts in writing and not in a public home turf forum. Tom, you can address the historic Baptist positions, Emir can address his with the Anabaptist tradition and it can be published by Broadman and Holman as a way to open up the Calvinism debate in the SBC. THis will get personalities aside and get the HOly TEXT in the forefront. Who knows, maybe the Lord will grant all of you wisdom to say no to continuing this debate.

Jared Keizer said...

I am absolutely shocked at the spirit and intellectual vacuity of Dr. Caner. His attitude bespeaks a terrible state of heart, and I am simply shocked at the accusatory tone against Tom that he evokes in his comments.

This from someone who works at Liberty University? How much fundraising goes on in the name of Chirst at Liberty? He is criticizing the use of a cruise dedicated for the purpose of Biblical teaching.

I can recall many instances when Jerry Falwell and others at Liberty have promoted events, offers for degrees, not to mention the entire PTL scandal as something for which money was exchanged in return for some sort of service.

He does not provide a good reason not to debate on the issues, and he certainly proves he is no Christian statesman worthy of the honor of addressing the Southern Baptist Convention.

I would encourage you to seek a debate, and I would hope that the Caner brothers would rise to the occasion to actually focus on key texts in Holy Scripture rather than a pseudo-earnestness about being "Biblical" and "Baptist."

As C.S. Lewis said, "I'd sooner live among people who don't cheat at cards than among people who are earnest about not cheating at cards."

Likewise, I would rather hear sound reasoning from these men rather than continual talk about sound reasoning from them.

Indeed, this is why the SBC is as it is today.

Truly, a shame, but I do believe change is coming.

Steve said...

Unfortunatly, no one is surprised by how the email conversation has gone with Ergun. Thanks for handling the situation with class Tom.

Will Langford said...

I think the debate should proceed. I believe this to be a serious subject that the SBC needs to address. However, my take on this is very different than many of yours.

I personally believe that Dr. Caner would do an outstanding job and would certainly win the debate. First, because of his superior debating skills. Ergun has a brilliant mind and is very skilled in the area of debate. And second, he would win because his view is indeed Biblical. Ergun rely's on scripture to influence his theology, not a man made theology to influence scripture.


I have read with amazement the self righteous attacks,name calling and misrepresentations of Dr. Caner in this blog. This blog certainly feeds the notion that Calvinists are arrogant. That statement by Chris r that "Ergun is now an enemy of the truth" is one of the more rediculous statements I have ever read on this blog.

One misrepresentation is the assumption that Ergun is an Arminian. If anyone has heard him speak on this subject he makes it very clear that he is not an Arminian. However, so many people just make room for a person either being an Arminian or a Calvinist. Ergun simply states his point that he is neither, he is a Baptist. Why does his identifying himself as a Baptist alarm so many of you? Is he not Presbyterian enough?

So I say, proceed with the debate! The truth will prevail.

Nathan White said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sean said...

We need to be careful about the speech on these postings. We do not have the right to question Dr. Caner's salvation. This is going too far. Let's heed James' warning in Chapter 3 about taming the tongue and seek to possibly correct a brother in love without making claims upon his eternal salvation. That is God's perogative alone, not ours.

Michael Spencer said...

Tom,

As I said to you in correspondence some time ago, this is a project by the Caners to drop a bomb on SBC Calvinism. The "pimp" comment removes all doubt in my mind. Whatever happens that night will be far less important than what the Falwell media empire does with the taped result. It will be a weapon against the Founder's Movement for years to come.

The Founder's Movement has never operated by demanding debates. I understand why you have accepted this invitation from your friend. I would urge you to consider what will be done to SBC Calvinism with the edited tapes. This is a project that will be edited into you saying and supporting things you did not say and do not support. It will be distributed to support the war on Calvinism in the SBC.

There is a battle here for principle and truth. But the end result will be major collateral damage.

Consider this carefully.

Your friend,

Michael Spencer

Lynchburger said...

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. You can’t imagine the boost to morale that we will get just by having Drs White and Ascol enter boldly into the lion’s den. We are Calvinists after all, and are not worried about God’s ability to safeguard the presentation of His truth under hostile circumstances. Please pray that this event occurs, and please come in droves. God bless you all.

Ben Keller said...

Short and sweet: perservere, Dr. Ascol. I hope you and Dr. White can attend to, if nothing else, open the scriptures for the Armin.

Ben Keller

DexCisco said...

I have been in church all my life. I went to a Christian school for 12 years, and Bible College for 2. After all that, my understanding of Calvinism was that it has something to do with "once saved, always saved." It took a space-filler program on a Christian TV station at 2:00 AM to introduce me to real, biblical Calvinism. If you have the opportunity to talk to an auditorium full of young Bible College students who likely have never heard Calvinism properly presented, then for their sakes I say "Do it!" If God can use a Christian TV station at 2:00 AM, then he can certainly use you.

You know far better than I that the results are in the Lord's hands. Don't let the Giant of Despair cause you to lose hope. He is a loud, obnoxious bully. Ignore him. There are thousands who think the world of Dr. Caner because they have not heard any different. For their sakes, go. The prayers of the saints are with you.

Calvinism & Arminianism said...

"As I said to you in correspondence some time ago, this is a project by the Caners to drop a bomb on SBC Calvinism. The 'pimp' comment removes all doubt in my mind."

Michael, I couldn't agree with you more...

"Whatever happens that night will be far less important than what the Falwell media empire does with the taped result. It will be a weapon against the Founder's Movement for years to come."

Michael, I couldn't disagree with you more...

I too have no doubt Falwell, the Caners and others involved over at Liberty want to drop a bomb on Calvinism, but let me assure you, no amount of editing can change what is going to be said. Take it from an video editor. How could I manipulate what has been said? How could I have Tom saying something different than what he says or make him sound different than the way he sounds or look different then the way he looks? Sure, I could have more shots of him reacting to Ergun than Ergun reacting, for example, to James if he were to say something he disagreed with. But as for manipulating words, there is no way. The same is true if I was in charge of editing over at Liberty and being pressured by Ergun to make him look better. If he were to go off and says something like “I’m sick and tired of Calvinists, they all can just go to Hell” there is no way to edit what he said or make him look better saying it. If Tom says, “I would like to thank Liberty university for inviting James and I to be here..." there's no way I can make him look bad saying it.

Tom, when you hear brothers like John say "no matter how good Dr. Ascol does in person, he can be edited to made to look (or sound) like a bafoon. Beware" don't worry, that cannot happen if you and James stay professional and courteous.

Denny Burk said...

I am stupified. I can't believe what the Caners said in that 22 page correspondence. Unbelievable.

Caddiechaplain said...

It is late on the West Coast , , , ,Wiley is probably in bed and I am grieving the loss of my wife's grandmother who was buried in Augusta, GA, this past Saturday. I have just met Tom at the SBC in Greensboro; I have re-introduced myself to Tom Nettles (I had him for Church History at SWBTS) and to say that my son had taken his course at SBTS last semester ( he said: "he sat to my left"); I have seen Dr. James White in two debates on the West Coast (Douglas Wilson and Shamir Aly) and I have to say that I was proud to have him as a brother in Christ; I am of the opinion that this debate or dialogue must go forward for the sake the Truth! I encourage every one who reads this posting to honestly fast and pray for this situation that as already has been stated that "God be Glorified and that the Truth be spoken." There is no reason to back down for the truth of the Gospel.
By His Grace and For His Glory . . . . .

Samuel J Bell III said...

Brothers,
This Thing Is getting a Little out of control. I hope some one can show the Caners that they are just hurting the Gosple and there own ministries by acting the way they have been acting. Brother Tom March forward Christian Soldier I will be praying for you and Brother White. A little side note for Brother Will Langford You need to study the doctirens that you and your champion of free will are speaking out aginst before you open you mouth about the truth or un truth of it. You must know both side of the coin. You cant be ignorant of the one or the other. It is your biblical duty to be fully equiped. Also the fact that you are defending the Caners just shows me that you havent even read the files on the corasopdances between the two partys. So I Hope you do and mabye you will see what is actualy going on. Once agian thank you Brother Tom For Stanting Firm in the Faith.
Sam Bell
Fredericksburg Tx
Free Grace Baptist Church S.A Tx

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Dr. A,

I urge you to go to the "debate." When you take the stage with the goal of faithfully discharging your trust, the Master who appointed you as a steward will be your defender. If your opponents try to make you look foolish, the rock they are trying to roll on you will roll on them.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Deb Jones said...

Dr. Caner's behavior makes me embarrassed of the fact that I attend Liberty University.

However, knowing Dr. Caner, he probably wasn't trying to use the word pimp in its literal context, but instead was probably trying to show how much modern 'young' lingo he knows...he prides himself on being popular with his students, and goes to enormous lengths to keep it that way. A friend of mine told me of a friend of his who hangs out with Dr. Caner outside of school, who was very impressed by the fact that he uses curse words on a regular basis, because it shows that he's not as "uptight" as some of the other professors. (Note: I do NOT condone the behavior of a Dean of a Seminary who has a potty mouth) I think that by the word 'pimp', he just meant that Dr. Falwell was really going to try to make the debate high profile.

I know a lot of your brothers in Christ on this page want you to back out, but I BEG of you not to. If these men knew the degree to which these students blindly follow Dr. Caner in everything that he does, I think they would agree that this needs to happen. The Liberty University students need the truth to be proclaimed, and they need to see it in this way. Dr. Caner doesn't want to do this debate, but he also doesn't want to be the one to back out. He wants you and Dr. White to back out so that it makes him look victorious. I know that pride doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things...that's not what I'm concerned about...I'm concerned about my fellow students. 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. I KNOW that this debate needs to happen, and we all just need to pray that God will open the hearts of the students so that they will see who is being calm and scholarly and speaking God's truth, and who is yelling and screaming and using one-liners to elicit cheers from the audience. Yes, it will be rowdy and maybe uncomfortable...you might encounter some persecution, but isn't persecution a blessing?

It seems I am ranting...I just wanted to get my two cents in. :) Thanks for allowing the rant space, Dr. Ascol.

marc said...

Proverbs 14:7 "Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge."

Jeff Downs said...

I have mixed emotions on this. On one hand,k I think you and James should proceed (I like the idea about asking the audience if they want the debate to go longer), on the other hand, James has put a lot of time into making things right (which is understandable), but no doubt could have been spent preparing for other things or finding an opponent who actually wants to debate.

peter lumpkins said...

My Brothers,

Just a bit of fantasy fiction I penned when the fireworks began on this debate over a month ago.

Frankly, I think it may still be appropriate to revisit (perhaps for the majority, the first time) since the temperature rises once again over an engagement which, in my view, appears unlikely to ever Glorify our Lord. This very well could send the Calvinist Resurgence back to the 70's. Is that what you want?

Once upon a time there were two young men who lived in entirely different parts of the planet. Being born about the same year, as time passed on, both received a special new birth from Heaven with both embracing the Bible’s Christ with sheer delight!

And were they excited! In fact, neither could get enough of Him, His teachings or His Church.

Nor did this excitement about The Bible’s Christ fail to take notice of the Church Leaders. Each man’s Church loved him, nurtured him and supported him.

And, furthermore, as each man internally sensed that The Bible’s God was calling him to a specific function to the Bible’s Church, each man’s Church externally validated that inner call by visibly commissioning him to Church Leadership.

Of course, this leadership did not come without its due toil. Each man dedicated himself to a lifetime of study, scholarship and teaching. No mountains were too high to climb or valleys too wide to cross. The Bible’s Christ was much more significant than any obstacles he faced. Each spent much time preparing himself for what The Bible’s God had called him to do.

Time passed on; but though most of the truths each learned were the same, there were some differences that began to forge. Indeed the differences became more and more pronounced. So much so, that, even though the two had never met, they began to speak to each other about the differences.

Both men felt a little awkward as they spoke to each other for they really had never had much communication between them. And, even though so much similarity existed in the views each had independently forged about the Bible’s God, their only point of communication was their differences.

So, they kept trying to build a relationship between themselves based on the only thing they knew: their differences. A series of conversations took place but they didn’t go so well. All they could seem to talk about were all they knew about each other: their differences.

Emotions increased and finally any hope of meaningful relationship between the two young men rapidly slipped away. All that was left for them would be a public display of their differences and allow others to decide who they thought to be correct.

As a result, each of them went to his Church Leaders and spoke openly of the matter to the assembled wise men. As they listened, some began to note their concern that such an open display of such difference would not assist the Bible’s Kingdom in advancement.

One wise man spoke: Should not brother be for brother and not against brother? What possible help will this display of difference bring to honor The Bible’s Christ as He prays ˜that they may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” Even more, what possible display of love is this for the world to see?

Other Church Leaders joined with many questions. One wise leader said: My dear son. How far you have traveled with us. Your abilities The Bible’s God bestows through grace is beyond all we have seen for many, many years. I have watched you grow and mature. No one could ever question your knowledge or your passion to The Bible’s Christ.

But I must ask you, my dear soul: Are there not enough unbelievers to whom you may turn to cast down their arguments, pillage their arsenal and ravage their farms where they grow their poisonous crops to destroy The Bible Truth? Is there not? I beg you, tell me plain. Why must you plow The Kingdom’s Field?

One Church Leader brought up a near universally known engagement between Whitehall and Williams, two of the Church’s greatest saints, each of which, the two young men respectively claimed as his greatest example.

Do you not recall, the Wise leader asked the young man, how Whitehall thrice begged Williams not to make the differences between them known and how much hurt it could cause the Bible’s Church?

And, even though each man was respectful to listen to all the questions the Church Leaders posed, in the end both men insisted they air the differences publicly. They insisted on open debate.

After the Church Leaders of each man had met in closed session, they came back to them and conceded the debate. They said: Thus you have requested and thus we agree. Let the debate take place as you have sought.

But, know our dear son, we must also place what we believe must be requisite for the debate to happen. Do you so submit?

With that, each young man felt glee within. Now finally the truth would be known! The differences would prevail! And, each cared little what the requisite would be, for both were willing to submit to torture, persecution, or even to death for the differences to prevail.

So, upon agreeing to submit, the Church Leaders gave the debate requisite to each of the young men:

We believe that it would be best not to openly debate your brother about whatever differences you have. But we also agree to allow you such freedom and bless you as you go. In turn, you have agreed to submit to our requisite which we state to you now:

Since you are openly debating your brother, we require you--based upon The Bible’s clear call to love your brother, make peace with your brother and live in true brotherly fellowship and keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace make amends with him, putting aside all ill-wills against him, counting him worthy of the calling with which he is called, and counting him better than yourself.

We require you to, before any open engagement takes place, make sure you stand right as brothers with one another so that the debate is seen as between friends for whom The Bible’s Christ died and not enemies of The Bible’s God. It will be then and only then that we bless you in your desire to debate your brother.

Upon hearing that, both young men walked away from his meeting contemplating in his heart what he would do...


With that, I am...

Peter

martyduren said...

Tom-
I may be the dissenting voice here, but don't do the debate. Your description of a burlesque show is exactly on target and no one wants or needs to see Ergun's legs.

Whatever format or thesis is chosen it will be a screaming, finger pointing, playground free for all. Everyone who has read the email exchanges already knows how the Drs Caner behave, there is no reason to give Liberty the opportunity to profit from it. Theological discussion is not desired by them; self promotion is.

dw said...

Dear Dr Ascol

I have been following this whole email
thing from across the pond and have been shocked by the antics of mr caner. It reminded me of the antics boxers go to to pyche out there opponents (Ali Vs Foreman) that type of thing. In my opinion and for what its worth I would go ahead if only for those students who hang on his every word. Incidentally i listened to mr caners sermon on romans 9 and could not help thinking, emotional soundbites for the masses.
I have listened to a number of Dr whites debates and heard him live and have found him to be an impecable christian gentleman, and who treats his opponents with the utmost respect even when they have not offered the same in return.
Finally hold your ground and let Gods Truth Shine 1Peter 3v15.

Dan From across the pond

Larry said...

Quite honestly, I don't think the issue here is that Dr. Caner does not want to have a scholarly debate on the doctrines of grace, I think the issue is he cannot and he knows it. That would go a long way towards explaining his actions. Puffing up and becoming belligerent is a common defense technique in the animal kingdom used to hide weaknesses. Its used in the hope that the opponent will walk away thereby avoiding the disaster of a confrontation. People sometimes use it too.

Apparently Dr. Falwell is still in the dark about Caner's ability to effectively defend his position or else he would not be excited about 'pimping' the debate to the whole world. He'd be scared to death that someone might actually see it!

centuri0n said...

OK: there is definitely something wrong when Michael Spencer and I agree on something, so let's think about why the iMonk and I agree that Dr. White and Tom Ascol should, given no changes in conditions, drop out of the debate in October.

[1] AOMin will not be in control of the recording that night. Rich has a 15-year history of integrity with recordings of debates (that is: living up to his promises that he will provide an unedited master to the other party). Given the kind of pettiness witnessed so far, the odds that the Caners/Dr. Falwell/Liberty will give Rich an unedited master are against.

[2] Given their brazen license with facts in e-mails which are publicly available to review, I have little or no doubt that they will take license with the video of this debate. All the need is one sound bite where Tom or Dr. White says, "Of course God does love all men equally becuase God will send some to hell for punishment," and they will turn the debate on its head in the editing room.

[3] There's no way the moderation will be balanced. "Fair" is such a bizarre word to use for a moderator because his job is not "fairness" but "impartiality". The current moderator is not an impartial person in this matter. The odds of White & Ascol getting even 40% of the mike time is low.

[4] I respect Dave H's optimism about the open-mindedness of the crowd, but he's wrong. I think of the Tim Staples debate, and if Staples' students could behave the way they did, how exactly does anyone think the students of the Pit Pull of Evangelical debates will behave? The decorum fo the crowd will turn this exchange into a circus in no time flat.

[5] Format. The format is "free for all" right now. Unless one is going to bring a bull horn or a chain, one is not going to win a free-for-all,

5 good reasons to walk away. At this point, the hope that the views will be aired out in a valuable way is completely gone. If Ergun Caner cannot respond to the substance of an e-mail written in real concern for the content of his objections, why would he respond with substance in the debate.

Good heavens: "read my book" looks like Socrates compared to what is being enountered here.

Tim said...

Sean,

I noticed my comments were deleted. However, I simply ask whether or not the comments concerning what John specifically said in Revelation concerning liars. If that is too bold, then please explain why. To call the man to repentance of lying is biblical. Whether or not he is saved may or may not apply. In either case, he does need to hear and understand the true gospel of grace.

John said...

Hi Michael Spencer,

You're absolutely right. The video and audio can be edited to make it appear that it was something it was not. The person who claims to be a video editor and denies that simply lacks credibility. If host says something crude, that can simply be edited out. These days little things, like vocalized pauses, can be easily and seamlessly edited out. What actually transpires and what is presented on a video or DVD can be two entirely different things. And just having some friend with a video camera making your own video won't be sufficient. Founders doesn't have the reach and the media. They could have a slanted version of the debate circulating out there (for a hefty donation) and Founders would only have a few copies of a sloppily done, little-known video. If the debate is going to go ahead, then there should be written (contractual) assurances about what will be done with the video and the audio.

Bill0615 said...

My dear departed friend and mentor, R. F. Gates, was full of Godly wisdom and discernment. When he would observe someone ranting and raving on the level that Ergun Caner has been doing for some time now, he would ask, "Now did that fellow have to get saved in order to be able to act that way, or could he have acted that way as an unbeliever? Did it take the grace of God to 'change' him into what he now is?"

The more I read and listen to the bluster of Ergun Caner, the more I think about a character out of the old Uncle Remus stories -- Tar baby.

Bill Ascol

C. T. Lillies said...

Brothers and Dr. Ascol:

Somehow when I read through this I began thinking about Paul and his determination to go to Jerusalem in spite of what all his dearest friends and church members said (after I was done being ticked off, I mean you just don't treat people that way). Truth be told, there's trouble in Jerusalem brother whether you get there by Pentecost or not. The difference here is that there is no Ceasar for you to appeal to, no way out of the flogging thats probably going to take place. As it stands right now, its going to be rough . The thing is that you simply never know how the Lord will use the things you say to affect others. I am at best a layman and unlearned when it come to these matters you all discuss here, but its a great encouragement to me to read them--my thanks to you all.

But I know this. God is who He says He is in His Word. I have see Him take a blind, stupid fool with just a bit of the Word of God in his belly and light a fire under the hardest hearted sinner. If there was ever group that needed some "consuming fire" it’s these folks.

I'll leave you with this:
Ezekiel 2:4-5 (NASB)
4“I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ 5“As for them, whether they listen or not—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them..."

Yours for being flint-headed...
Josh

slmayes said...

Tom,

At this point I think that a debate should be either cancelled or at least postponed. The environment for the debate will be hostile rather than Christian or, at the least, civil. Before resuming plans for the debate, I think that three things should be in place.

First, there should be a more neutral site, as another suggested, Southern Seminary or Southeastern Seminary. Second, there should be a different moderator than the one proposed. Al Mohler, Danny Akin, or Timothy George would be my suggestions. Third, a format which would allow for a thorough and thoughtful discussion of these important doctrinal differences should be in place.

If these things are not allowed, a debate may have more of a Jerry Springer atmosphere than a Christian discussion.

flawedcricket said...

Tom,

As one who has been greatly affected by Founders and your ministry I would like to add my lowly 2 cents worth.

My interaction with you via email (when you allowed me to quote you extensively in December '05 issue of the newspaper article I write monthly) and our brief conversation in the Burbank Airport prior to the Shepherd's Conference, as well as your posts on this blog, have left me with nothing but admiration for you. So on one hand, I shudder to think of you standing before the Drs. Caner and voluntarily submitting yourself to what will inevitably turn into a character assasination, if it doesn't begin that way from the outset.

On the other hand, your mature, grace-filled, Scripturally-laden presentation (arguments) will cause the Drs. extreme heartache due to their inability to volley in like-manner and will publically reveal their true colors/character. This will undoubtably also reflect poorly on Dr. Falwell and Liberty.

All that to say, you have chosen to withdraw and part of me says you've done the right thing. But there is a part of me that wishes you to stay the course.

The question I'm asking myself is, why do I want you to continue as previously planned? Is it because I want the truth of God's Word presented thoughtfully and accurately and falsehood revealed or is it because I want to see egg on the Drs. faces? I hope it's the former. I'm afraid it's the latter. And that, of course, is not a good reason, nor one in which you would approve I'm sure.

Christopher Redman said...

Will Langford said,

"I have read with amazement the self righteous attacks,name calling and misrepresentations of Dr. Caner in this blog. This blog certainly feeds the notion that Calvinists are arrogant. That statement by Chris r that "Ergun is now an enemy of the truth" is one of the more rediculous statements I have ever read on this blog."

I say -

Besides myself, I haven't seen any arrogant, self-righteous attacks on Dr. Caner on this blog. And I don't speak for anyone besides myself. I alone and responsible for my statements. (BTW, I attempted to email Dr. Caner last night but it was returned "undeliverable". Providence!)

After a good night's sleep, I'll admit that my statement may be pushing the envelope a little. And if I was refreshed in mind last night, I probably would have left out the second text and not put quotations on "may".

With that said, your words include: amazement, self righteous, attacks, name calling, misrepresentations, arrogant, rediculous...

Whatever I may have said and whatever criticism I may justly deserve I would multiply 1000 fold back to Dr. Caner himself.

Every critical word used in your post could be stated 1000 times of Dr. Caner's own words within this blog just a few months ago.

Shall I cut and paste them for you?


Tom,

Please forgive me for the lack of charity in my previous post. I'll make an effort to refrain in the future.

Additionally, I am very moved by the students from Liberty almost begging for this debate. I feel they are sincere and I can only imagine the kind of spiritual persecution they are enduring for the sake of the truth. (Is this not evidence of one being an "enemy of the truth"?)

I have not planned to attend this debate prior to this post, but if the debate does happen, I may drive all the way from Florida to attend the meeting myself. I think it is that important.

CR

Christopher Redman said...

Can we arrange a resturant or place to fellowship among friends in Lynchburg after the debate?

Is there a coffee house open late so students and friends of Ascol and White can gather for reflection after the debate?

CR

Brian R. Giaquinto said...

Tom,

In the past, we've discussed how godly discussion has been eroding in the SBC due to ad hominem, etc. Caner's blather has taken it to a completely different level. This is turning into a circus. I understand your heart. You desire to have honest dialog to promote the education of proper theology. Do you think this will happen, now? Better to bow out than have it mischaracterized further.

I would have walked out the moment he said "pimped." So much for being in the world and not of it!

Stephen A Morse said...

All of this talk about being sent to a rebellious people....

What about shaking the dust off of your sandals?

What about leaving the synagogue and sharing the Gospel elsewhere?

The issue isn't whether God can draw a straight line with a crooked pencil.... (we know He can and does!)it is whether we can honor and glorify God when the distraction and deception of the emails begin to blur the purpose and tarnish our testimony.

Maybe the table ought to be turned... is it possible to move the venue from the Dog Pound to another Kennel?

I think that the real challenge isn't this debate. If Drs White and Ascol decide to reject the childish actions of the drs Caner they haven't lost anything at all.

Everyone can see the truth: Dr White has made himself available at ANYTIME to discuss this with Dr Caner in HIS OWN classrooms.

Forget the debate for a minute... The interaction at the classroom level, to me, seems like the obvious answer. If Dr Caner is true to his own words and beliefs... he would take him up on it... if not then who is the one who loses?

The hype that this debate is getting needs to be tempered with what Dr White said at the beginning about how he has several other, just as important, if not more important, debates coming up in the very near future.

We are praying for you Drs White, Ascol, and Caner.

Bill Moore said...

Just a few observations:

First, I suspect there are not a few Liberty students, as seen in a couple of posts here, who are looking forward to seeing God's sovereignty in salvation defended. It's hard to imagine the debate not happening.

Second, how long must we endure this vacuous assertion that "I'm not a Calvinist or an Arminian; I'm a Baptist"? It betrays an ignorance of church history and theology.

Third, many non-reformed Baptists, IMO, fear Calvinistic soteriology because it is the greatest danger not to evangelism but to pragmatism. Many personal ecclesiastical kingdoms would be seen for what they are if Baptists return to their historical roots. It's one thing to work up decisions; it's quite another to see true conversions.

Fourth (and last--I don't read through long posts either!), the charge that reformed Baptists follow a system and not the Bible is laughable. We are Baptists, for crying out loud! :) What system did we ever grow up on as young children or believers? We became reformed in our understanding of salvation because we saw in taught in the Bible. Many of us (I plead guilty) were initially repulsed by Calvinistic soteriology. Only because we became convinced that it is indeed biblical did we accept it.

Okay, too long. Sorry.

Bill

kelly jack said...

I would not waste my breath on this guy.I've got a cousin that acted the same way but to his defense he started to change around the age 15.
Cancell the debate.

kelly

Tom said...

Brothers and sisters:

Thanks for your comments. God will use them, I believe, to make clear His will in navigating through this mess. I deleted a couple of comments made by friends, not because I thought that they did not have a point, but because I thought they crossed a line in making judgments. Granted, both men had arguable points, but we tend to be too quick to pile on when dealing with those with whom we disagree. I don't want this thread to degenerate into that and so I have started moderating the comments.

As has been pointed out, Jesus has commanded us to love even our enemies. So, if you are convinced that Dr. Caner is your enemy, you are under no less obligation to be patient, kind, forgiving, longsuffering and hopeful toward him. I confess, my deepest emotion is grief. I am profoundly saddened by all of this and have been given many reasons to stop and examine my role in what has become a shameful exchange of emails. It is sobering to me.

Let me try to express as succinctly as I can what my posture is in this whole mess. From the beginning, since being asked to participate in the debate, I have been a willing but unenthusiastic participant. That should not be taken as my disapproval of the concept of scholarly theological debate but rather as my personal sense of calling to be a preacher of the Word and not scholarly debater of it. Yet, included in my sense of call is the responsibility to contend for the faith and to defend it. Doing so in a scholastic setting fits within that but it does not excite me near as much as preaching to my church or encouraging friends to come to Christ over breakfast (as I was privileged to do a few hours ago). Dr. White also loves preaching and personal evangelism. Yet, God has led him to give himself to the primary work of apologetics which necessarily includes scholarly engagements. If you know James or have seen him debate, you probably agree with me that God has built him for debating.

Given all of this, I am willing to go anywhere at any time to preach Christ. I have long said that if the Pope would issue me an invitation to address a gathering at St. Peter's, I would accept it in a heartbeat and would preach justification through faith alone. By God's grace I do not think I would be afraid to stand in front of 10,000 people who hate what I believe and try to proclaim the Gospel of God's grace to them. I can assure you that I have been castigated for my beliefs by far better people than are likely to show up in the Vines Center for a debate. Those experiences have helped me to see that what people think of me or do to me really doesn't matter. I am not suggesting that I like it or that it is painless, but, ultimately, it is insignificant.

So, if I had any hope that James and I would be allowed to speak freely and engage in an orderly way the arguments of our theological opponents, I would not say peep about all the bluster and bloviating (thanks, Charles!) that has been directed our way the last several months (even though I hate the thought of being associated with those who conduct themselves in this way in the Name of Christ). My concern, however, is that based on what I have seen and on what Drs. Caner have attempted to force on us by way of format, thesis and moderator for this "debate," I have no confidence that they will allow us to speak. To put it bluntly, I do not trust them. The written evidence gives sufficient reason for my lack of trust.

What will happen? I don't know. But I am convinced that the Caners do not want an honest exchange of ideas in a debate format. I won't speculate on their motivations. That is God's business. But it is evident that if they really wanted an honest debate, they could have it. We stand ready and willing to engage them on agreed upon terms and in any number of formats that have proven useful for theological debate (with an impartial moderator).

If, however, as Dr. Caner has already admitted, all they are interested in is to put on a show so that Dr. Falwell can "pimp" the tapes and DVDs to little old ladies around the world, then I am not at all interested.

Thanks for your prayers.

Greg P said...

I have to say that my opinion is that the very reason this debate is being planned is the reason why it doesn't need to happen.

The Patterson-Mohler "debate" took place because Calvinism is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the SBC. It has done so not by attempting to maneuver it into the power structure, but on the grassroots level. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Mohler and Akin are running two of the seminaries.

This reminds of what I know of the conservative resurgence in a unique sort of way. The megachurches are going to have more members, generally speaking, because of the nature of their membership requirements (as Dr. Ascol has recently attempted to amend). And yet, because of that same kind of easy-believism, there will be a much smaller percentage of people who care than in Calvinistic churches.

The high view of God and the sanctification that comes as a result of true, faithful preaching is sadly lacking in the churches that control the convention right now. But as can be plainly seen, that is changing. Debate in the public arena is not necessary. Like the reaction against the "establishment" this year in Greensboro, my feeling is that the "Calvinist resurgence" (and it is indeed a resurgence, though long in coming) will sneak up and stun the Arminian crowd.

Look what has already happened in the world of evangelicalism even without any formal action. Al Mohler has become the default spokesman for the SBC with the media. John Piper is one of the most popular authors, even among Arminians. So is John MacArthur, who even Bailey Smith (certainly no Calvinist) referred to as "America's Bible Teachers" at Real Evangelism a couple of years ago.

There's a phrase I've heard a few times from my professor that "Liberals have no grandchildren." Well, fluff-preaching pulpiteers may have some, but not many. The unfortunate reality is that the Calvinists may inherit leadership of the SBC by default as all the others continue to drift away from that kind of teachinng which will build strong believers.

The Arminian leadership of the SBC is clearly worried, and there's a reason for it. They're not just creating some movement to have something to preach against. They recognize the growing influence of Calvinism in the SBC.

My opinion is that we should simply preach the truth and be faithful, as many of you have been doing for years and years to what is now being seen as great fruition.

YnottonY said...

Here's an idea. Why not try to get the debate to take place at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where Paige Patterson and Emir teach? Since people are impressed by the Mohler/Patterson exchange, perhaps Patterson could handle the situation in an appropriate way. I very much doubt that he would allow any kind of shameful exchange to take place. Also, it would certainly be convenient for Emir. I am sure he could talk to the theology department and set up things easily.

You might even talk to Dr. Doug Blount at Southwestern. He's a well-trained Notre Dame grad who would be good to work with.

I see no reason why Emir would have a problem with this. Ergun might.

Since the moderator at Liberty is not being cooperative in replying, try to set up the debate somewhere else. If Ergun is unwilling, then I would call it off. Several people have given good reasons why the debate should not take place at Liberty. At least try to get the debate to happen somewhere else (like Southwestern Bapt Theo Sem) before you drop out. If you are not satisfied with how Liberty is handling the situation, then make an effort to set it up at another location.

Since I live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, I am biased in my suggestion for the location :-)

May God continue to grant grace to Tom so that he can continue to be a model of Christian maturity in this matter.

G. F. McDowell said...

Gentlemen, since when does the host of the debate get to pick the moderator and the question? It is usually the privilege of the debaters lacking "home court advantage" to choose the question.


I think that a parliamentary style debate plays into your hands, especially if you are in the negative. The Opposition in a Parliamentary style debate has a lower burden of evidence. He only has to poke sufficient holes in the Government's arguments to win. The opposition can win by not losing; the government must obliterate the opposition in order to win. Proper judges from a properly sanctioned debating league would see to it. The problem is that a parliamentary debate is not really meant to be carried out in front of an audience. I think cross-examination would be uniquely well-suited to a debate before an audience. The Caners don't seem to know the first thing about debate.

Deb Jones said...

And to Chris R. - there are not many places in Lynchburg that are open past 9 or 10 pm, but I'm sure with a good amount of searching something can be found. If all else fails, I'll squeeze you all into my little townhouse. :)

Caddiechaplain said...

Thank you, Tom and James . . . .brothers!

all4hisrenown said...

Thank God for your longsuffering and endurance. It just takes a step at a time. Also, a lot of prayer. Thanks!

D.J. Cimino said...

This whole thing is sad. Before seeing that the Doctrines of Grace were biblical truth, I admit that I was just as antagonistic towards Calvinists/Calvinism as Caner is. I believe that it will take a work of God in Caner's heart for anything productive to be accomplished from this "debate".

With that being said, I still plan on trying to be there!

Jason E. Robertson said...

Tom,

--FOR THE SAKE OF THE ELECT--

As a former Liberty U. student, I believe that the debate will be a success. Those students at Liberty are not brain-numb robots. They are at that University because they love the Lord, love Scripture, and want to learn.

The Caners may want to be "Arminian Rockstars" but they can't fool everybody. In fact, when I went to Liberty sixteen years ago, I went as one who believed as the Caner's do. BUT...There was ONE professor at Liberty who expounded the Scriptures and taught me to do the same. His name is Dr. Paul Fink.

Dr. Fink is reformed in his theology. I thought he was a hyper-Calvinistic enemy of the Gospel -- AT FIRST. But God used that ONE professor to begin to change my theological thinking.

To make a long story short, Dr. Fink braved the Arminian environment, endured all things for the sake of the elect, and taught many of us "young bucks" Calvinism -- and it changed our lives and ministries forever!!

You and Dr. White can do the same.

I hope this works out where you two can go... and go back again... and go back every year... and be a voice for Reformed theology in a place were many of our young pastors are going to learn.

Sola Gratia said...

Tom,

I was wondering if this debate is going to be taped. I'd watch it every day =D
And for everbody else reading this, who agrees with me that all the arminians will stay home sweating while this debate is taking place so they'l have an exuse to say, "the Caner's won fair in square."?

SJ Camp said...

Dear Tom:

Well stated here brother. Thank you.

A few brief observations:

1. When Ali fought Frazier, they were not the ones who negotiated terms, determined venue and location, decided on media coverage and post-event media rights, etc. - that was done by their representatives. THAT should have been the case here. You and James should not speak to the Caners privately or through email exchanges until the evening of the debate. With the noted exception of any pre-approved radio, print or blogosphere/web-based interviews.

2. Once all details are completely agreed to, a letter and contract of agreement between all parties should be drafted (as it has been in other debates) and signed by all participants and/or their representatives.

3. Then, once that contract is agreed to, signed and executed, all email dialogue and public correspondence between all parties should cease until after the debate. It is one thing for the individual participants to write their own articles about the issues, but I thank that most would agree, this has been a poor testimony all the way around (and no question that Ergun Caner clearly owns the vast lionshare of that responsibility).

4. Post debate: the video/audio taping and distribution thereof should be mutually beneficial. Whether made available to the public through Vodcasts, Podcasts, DVD, TV Specials, etc. all should profit equally according through royalties and individual promoted efforts whether at point of purchase, direct mail, or over the web. An unedited version of the debate should be given to all parties to use in the manner they best deem fit for their own constituents.

5. All of this should have been negotiated, signed, and concluded before ONE single announcement of this debate was ever made public.

In conclusion, I appreciate your words in how you confronted Dr. Caner per his qualifying this as a “pimping.” A most unfortunate poor choice of words and words that fail to demonstrate Christlikeness and show a sobriety of Christian spirit.
The unfortunate thing now, is that this debate has degenerated away from the important issues at hand pertaining to the doctrines of grace, a biblical view of soteriology, and how those views impact evangelism.

However the Lord may lead you dear brother, you have my complete support. We all need to pray that the Lord would use all of this to His glory.

Michael O' Fallen is a tremendous gift to all of us in the body of Christ for what he does behind the scenes for so many ministries including AudienceONE and Alpha Omega. He would be a good one to negotiate all future details in any future debates along with legal council absent of any direct correspondence from any of the participants whatsoever until the evening of the debate.

Grace and peace to you dear brother,
Steve
Col. 1:9-14

SJ Camp said...

Dear Tom:

Well stated here brother. Thank you.

A few brief observations:

1. When Ali fought Frazier, they were not the ones who negotiated terms, determined venue and location, decided on media coverage and post-event media rights, etc. - that was done by their representatives. THAT should have been the case here. You and James should not speak to the Caners privately or through email exchanges until the evening of the debate. With the noted exception of any pre-approved radio, print or blogosphere/web-based interviews.

2. Once all details are completely agreed to, a letter and contract of agreement between all parties should be drafted (as it has been in other debates) and signed by all participants and/or their representatives.

3. Then, once that contract is agreed to, signed and executed, all email dialogue and public correspondence between all parties should cease until after the debate. It is one thing for the individual participants to write their own articles about the issues, but I thank that most would agree, this has been a poor testimony all the way around (and no question that Ergun Caner clearly owns the vast lionshare of that responsibility).

4. Post debate: the video/audio taping and distribution thereof should be mutually beneficial. Whether made available to the public through Vodcasts, Podcasts, DVD, TV Specials, etc. all should profit equally according through royalties and individual promoted efforts whether at point of purchase, direct mail, or over the web. An unedited version of the debate should be given to all parties to use in the manner they best deem fit for their own constituents.

5. All of this should have been negotiated, signed, and concluded before ONE single announcement of this debate was ever made public.

In conclusion, I appreciate your words in how you confronted Dr. Caner per his qualifying this as a “pimping.” A most unfortunate poor choice of words and words that fail to demonstrate Christlikeness and show a sobriety of Christian spirit.
The unfortunate thing now, is that this debate has degenerated away from the important issues at hand pertaining to the doctrines of grace, a biblical view of soteriology, and how those views impact evangelism.

However the Lord may lead you dear brother, you have my complete support. We all need to pray that the Lord would use all of this to His glory.

Michael O' Fallen is a tremendous gift to all of us in the body of Christ for what he does behind the scenes for so many ministries including AudienceONE and Alpha Omega. He would be a good one to negotiate all future details in any future debates along with legal council absent of any direct correspondence from any of the participants whatsoever until the evening of the debate.

Grace and peace to you dear brother,
Steve
Col. 1:9-14

Tolpel said...

Tom,

Don't for one minute consider backing out of this debate. When I first began struggling with the Doctrines of Grace, the reading of the Whitefield/Wesley saga was so instrumental in allowing me to see who really posessed the truth. In many ways what you and James are experiencing closely paralells what Whitefield endured. While this is no doubt greivous at the present time, I feel confident that generations of Christians in years to come will read your correspondense, much like I read the Whitfield/Wesley correspondence and will be drawn to the truth. This debate will obviously not be about the merits of Calvinism, but it will be about the character of Calvinists. I will be praying that your sterling character will continue to show through as you and James confront these unruly men with dignity and grace. Fight the good fight gentlemen and know that many are praying for you.

Alex F said...

I wonder if Danny Akin would be available as a moderator. He is well respected and liked by the Caners and by many in the Reformed camp as well, and is not too far away geographically. He would surely do a "fair and balanced" job as moderator/referee.

J. Gray said...

Dr. Ascol, I am sure that whatever decision you make will be the right one.

However...I, for one, do not want to see this debate get cancelled. Caner is already unbearable, and there is no telling what sort of nonsense will spew forth if this debate gets cancelled. Cancellign it would play right into his hands, IMO. He is scared of actual debate, thus his childish antics.

I think there will be positives and negatives...no matter what happens. I guess you need to weigh those out.

- Gray

PS - With regard to comments made by Will Langford : Will, have you even read the e-mail correspondence?
I was floored and disgusted by what I have seen from Ergun Caner. But you see no problem? odd.
I guess the myopia fades over into defining positions as well. You shudder when he is called Arminian (even though his positions COULD be construed as classic Arminianism) yet you have no problem with his attack on Calvinists as "hyper-calvinists", despite the fact that historically they are 2 different camps. At least TRY and be consistent.

Greg B said...

I have not been able to read all of the posts, but as for the poster noting Emir's book and the rise of Anabaptist Studies at SWBTS. Emir was the Professor of Anabaptist Studies at SEBTS from 1998 until Dr. Patterson took him to SWBTS. As much as I apprecieate Dr Patterson, he is very deliberate about using the anabaptist history to lessen the impact of Particular Baptists and English Generals (they went into universalism) on Baptist History. Of course much of it is to counter his fear of Hyper Calvinism. As many have observed, his fear is frequently misaimed at Evangelical Calvinists.
Greg B

Greg B said...

Deb Jones,
Would you be Marvin and Karen's 2d child.
Greg B from Redeeming Grace
huguenotbible@aol.com

John said...

Steve Camp had some excellent recommendations. I would, however, add that, should you decide to go ahead, edited copies of the debate not be allowed. There needn't be out-right fraud for there to be mischief. Biased people will see and hear what they want to see and hear and, if allowed to, will edit the real debate to fit the one they imagined they saw and heard.

Mr. Caner's followers will not even see the problems with the e-mails Dr. Ascol posted.

As for the comparison with Whitefield v. Wesley: Wesley was not allowed to edit Whitefield's letters. If he had, he would have butchered them, as he did the work of Puritans that he published. The Whitefield v. Wesley debate was carried on through writings, not a setting controlled by Wesley, with recordings in his hands to do with as he saw fit. I agree that Whitefield's counter to Wesley is one of the best introductions to the doctrines of grace, etc., (especially to an evangelical Arminian). But that was only made possible because Wesley didn't control the media, certainly not Whitefield's writing.

www.covenantdubois.com

Deb Jones said...

Greg B. - I am Marvin and Karen's first child :) I was born in Fort Worth after my parents met at seminary at Southwestern and got married. You go to Redeeming Grace in Mathews, VA? How come I've never met you?

Forest A said...

Dear Tom,

Thank-you for your graciousness in sharing all this with us and the many hours of labor you put in to keeping all of us up to date.

Just a few personal words regarding Dr. Ergun Caner:

I have been consistent in my reading of the blogs concerning this debate, but have remained silent until now because I knew how this would turn out from the beginning. I am a graduate of Liberty University much like some other posters here. I graduated less than one year ago, but left the campus a year and half ago to pursue my calling in ministry. I had the unfortunate opportunity of sitting under the teaching of Dr. Caner during his first semester at Liberty University. We clashed on many issues and began privately debating many Calvinistic soteriological issues. He specifically attacked Founders on many issues (as he knew I was associated with this ministry) but many the issues consisted of irrelevant topics like “not everyone at Founders Ministries agrees whether or not infants who die go to heaven” and “We do not believe in killing heretics, as Calvin did with Servetus and many others”. To his defense, I must say Caner is very knowledgeable historically speaking. In class, the brunt of his accusations against ministries like Founders were more on a personal level, not scholarly. 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.

To Jason Robertson:

Yes, there is a reformed presence on the campus of Liberty University. While I was there I led a reformed Bible study and had a professor from the theology department at Liberty speak on a few occasions. I also was able to work at the bookstore and brought in many reformed books that was met with both great opposition (from Caner, Ed Hinson, and Dr. Falwell) and great welcome. I must say though, Dr Fink is not a Calvinist. I sat under his teachings for many classes, and while he strongly teaches Total Depravity, he just as strongly defends a General Atonement. He teaches proper Biblical exposition and this is how many come to the knowledge of the Doctrines of Grace – through proper Biblical study.

If the debate does occur with Tom involved, I will definitely be there and will gladly secure a location for all to meet following the debate.

- Forest Aalderink

Jason E. Robertson said...

Forest, not to start a debate here at Tom's site about this issue, but some Calvinists do defend a "General Atonement" as you called it. I do not believe in such, but many good Calvinists do/did. Dr. Fink is reformed in his theology.

Of course, my point was that on a campus there are many students who will be able to see past the antics of the Caners, listen to the substance of the debate, and be theologically affected by the whole thing. So for the sake of the elect, I would hope that Drs. White and Ascol persevere and defend the Gospel.

DavidWesterfield.net said...

I am just simply amazed at all this. I mean, even if you're not a Calvinist, if you know anything about theology (even just basic definitions), you would know Ergun is misusing and abusing the term Hyper-Calvinist over and over again (his usage of this has been sufficiently refuted by White with no thoughtful response from Ergun).

I had a friend who attended Liberty University (I won't mention the person's name so they aren't beaten, jk) 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?

Greg B said...

Dear Deb Jones:
If you email me off list at huguenotbible@aol.com, I'll tell you the story. I do teach Katie in SS.
Greg B

Greg B said...

Deb:
To avoid trouble, run me and the email address by your dad. Don't want to smack of weirdoes on myspace.
Greg B

John said...

Dear Jason E. Robertson,

Hi. I don't think anyone who espouses "general atonement" could be described as a "Calvinist;" at best, perhaps, a "confused Calvinist." Limited atonement is actually one of the most easily proved from the Bible of the so-called "five points." There maybe Reformed theologians who want to nuance it by emphasizing that Christ's death was potentially sufficient for all people but only specifically applied to the elect. If the atonement is general, then all are saved. Besides, what sense does it make to propose that Christ died for everyone's atonement (even those who died BC) when there are specific people (like Judas!) who we know were predestined for destruction?

Greg B said...

The term I got from Dr. John Hammett at SEBTS was "Sufficient for all, efficient for the elect."
Basically, the blood of Jesus has unlimited power to save, but the Godhead only intended it for the elect.
Greg B

Tom...Dr Ascol(we haven't met).
If at all possible I would continue with the debate. Mr. Camps' suggestions may still be applied, and possibly Dr. Akin or a more knowledgeable and neutral moderator could be found. I will 2d the notion that if you and Dr. White can maintain a Christlike demeanor (regardless of the tenor of the debate) many on LU campus will be intrigued to study on their own. This was happening at SEBTS when I was there. The more Dr. Patterson tried to warn us about Calvinism, the more we studied. The more we were warned by some about Biblical counseling being to simplistic, the more we studied it.
If it happens I will go to Lynchburg to see it (2hours).
Greg B

James said...

Greg & John:

In relation to your statements:
"There may be Reformed theologians who want to nuance it by emphasizing that Christ's death was potentially sufficient for all people but only specifically applied to the elect." / "Sufficient for all, efficient for the elect."

The phrase "Sufficient for all..." comes from the Synod of Dort. So, folks using such terminology are not "confused Calvinists" or lacking in theological acumen.

peter lumpkins said...

Brothers,

Is it not at all possible that some could employ the term hypercalvinist in a non-classical sense? I think it is.

Indeed I have known some who, after discussing with them exactly what they were suggesting about precisely how calvinism at large was different from hypercalvinism in particular, their distinction led me to believe that all they were suggesting was that hypercalvinism was aggressive calvinism. That is, hypercalvinists were, in their view, calvinists who proactively attempted to persuade others to embrace calvinism.

Consequently, I think it would be good to allow a little slack to people who may employ the term hypercalvinist more loosely than technically. After all, they may not at all be incorrect in their charge--given their working definition--that many within Founders community, for example, are hypercalvinists. That is, those calvinists who, in a hyper, very aggressive way, persuade others to become calvinists too.

With that, I am...

Peter

Greg B said...

Gee, I didn't even know Dr. Hammett was there.

John said...

Dear James,

Hi. Thanks for the info. Could you quote the exact section of the Synod of Dordt that wrote: "Sufficient for all..." ?

I'd appreciate it.
jc

John said...

I believe a "hyper-calvinist" is someone who does not believe God uses the means of grace. The "hyper-calvinist" is someone who supposedly believes that since God has predestined the elect, then we need not evangelize, preach, etc. I've personally never met such a person and wonder if they are straw-men made up to knock down as if they were Biblical believers. Some "Calvinist" just might not like to use the means of grace and then use theology to excuse their sin. But I doubt very many people go to the Bible (or the Calvinist confessions), study, and come out believing that "when God wants to save the heathen He'll do it Himself."

Kennith said...

I was and am, although very prayerfully, a supporter of this debate. But I ask "What good can come from it?". Why debate with a brick wall, can that brick then become wood?

My heart is heavy for all parties involved. For Brothers Ascol and White, because they are standing for the Truth that I hold to dearly. For the Caner's, that they would please soften their attacks. Fortunately where I am from, when someone uses the word "pimpin" it is still said in the dark. Although the younger generation have started using it, but bless God when called down on it, they have repented, and agreed that their conversations should be more Christlike. This was NOT an attack! It is a simple statement of fact of my geographical location.

But here is the situation. If the debate is cancelled, Bro. Ascol and Bro. White will be called cowards. If they continue, they will more then likely be shouted down, and not even given a fair chance to state their beliefs. I think we can all honestly assess by the former transactions that this is the simple truth.

Father God, I pray that YOUR will would be done! Help us to be about YOUR business. Help us in that more will be exposed and willing to listen to our defense. Holy Spirit, only you can bring about change of heart and mind, For YOUR glory do that even know!

In the matchless authority and all powerful name of Jesus our Lord,
AMEN!

Matthew Rondeau said...

In relation to John's comment,

"If the atonement is general, then all are saved. Besides, what sense does it make to propose that Christ died for everyone's atonement (even those who died BC) when there are specific people (like Judas!) who we know were predestined for destruction?"

There are some at SEBTS actually teaching that Christ paid the full penalty of sin, even for those who will face eternal punishment. The caveat is that the rejection of Christ is not considered a sin, and therefore not paid for, thus necessitating eternal damnation. I know it doesn't seem to make much sense, but this idea may grow in SBC circles as it is being taught by a philosophy professor.

Tom said...

Hi Peter:

I am glad to see you are still hanging around. I would still like to see your thoughts on my questions in the comments under the entry on Regeneration.

Concerning the legitimacy of redefining words to suit our purposes, I find your suggested line of reasoning very problematic. It reminds me of that famous theologian, Humpty Dumpty: "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'"

It is not a question of whether or not it is possible to misuse a word, the Caners and others have proven that possibility without a shadow of a doubt. The question is the legitimacy of it. Hyper-Calvinism is a definable theological position which is odious to those who hold to historic evangelical principles. When the Caners apply it to those who do not hold to that position--in fact who have clearly and firmly renounced that position--they are sinning.

Those who are aware that they must give an account of every idle word should be as careful as possible not to miscommunicate so as to violate the 9th commandment. Calling an evangelical Calvinist a hyper-Calvinist does exactly that...unless, I suppose, you happen to be a large talking egg who lives in Wonderland. For those of us who live in the real world, it is unacceptable.

Greg B said...

Yes Peter:
Most....alot of folks, most of those that "fight" Calvinism use Hyper-Calvinism in this way. Of course, grammatically they can be correct, but the term has a history they combine with the idea that it describes those who are passionate about Calvinism.
Historically Hyper doesn't mean Calvinists but more so. Sadly, many who misuse the words, or as I think fuse the two ideas together should know better.
Greg B

Greg B said...

Concerning Tom's last post:
Isn't that what we rightfully accused the liberal professors of the Southern Baptist seminaries of doing. Using familiar and historical words and phrases but meaning different things without explaining the differences (intentionally of course). Atleast that is what Russ Bush taught us.
Greg B

peter lumpkins said...

John,

I am glad you have settled on a good--perhaps even sophisticated and very technical--definition of exactly what a hypercalvinist happens to be. Yet there do exist some who do not share that working definition and, consequently, confusion will continue in the communication process if that is not recognized.

Some feel, I'm quite sure, that what I am pointing out does not amount to a hill of tators. However, when the persistent charge of "speaking false withness" because of wrongly embracing heresy is leveled against many non-calvinists for calling them hypercalvinists, I think it matter more than a hill of tators.

Have a great day, I am...

Peter

Christopher Redman said...

Mathew said -

Regarding unlimited atonement and the rejection of Christ, "...but this idea may grow in SBC circles as it is being taught by a philosophy professor."

To use the term coined by Gene Bridges (at least on this blog), BINGO!

Philosophy does not equal truth. If it is not according to the Word of Truth, regardless of how it sounds or how it appears to make sense, it is not truth.

Case in point -

R.C. Sproul Jr.'s espousal that God changed Eve's inclination to sin prior to the temptation and fall. PHILOSOPHY!

Pelagius' espousal that what God commands, man must have the ability to do, whence man must have free will. PHILOSOPHY!

There is much that passes as theology masked with eisogesis but with careful scrutiny prove fruitless and inaccurate.

My friend Peter (whom I've never met except on this blog) insists that Arminianism is not philosphy nor is free will philosphy. I believe otherwise.

Only that which is true according to the word of God is theology. All else falls short of God's glory.

One final thought, Sproul (Whom I like) is a philosopher/theologian. Philosophically, he can convince most everyone on the doctrine of paedobaptism. However, biblically, there is not one example of an infant being baptized!

His arguments and persuasion sound powerful but lack in biblical fact. In the same way, his assertion that God changed Eve's inclination to sin may make sense in questioning how and why Eve and Adam sinned. However, the Bible does not reveal this mystery and to suggest otherwise is unbiblical.

Peter -

My brother, if words have no understandable meaning, then there can be no communication. No one has the right to redefine any word. Why should we redefine a word unless we have an agenda or desire to slander another?

I've heard some people say, "Spurgeon was not a Calvinist." If that is true, then words have no meaning. He himself said, "I am not ashamed to prevail myself a Calvinist!"

As far as founders being "hyper-calvinist" because of trying to convince others of calvinism...

We are among friends here. We generally agree on many things and we all understand the term calvinism and their associated words and doctrines. There is no need to hide behind vague generalities in the company of friends.

Outside of this blog, most of us would not be so blunt, so specific, nor so vocal about the "C" word. After all, in some places you could be lynched for saying it.

CR

Tom said...

Peter:


Perhaps if I try to use your line of reasoning to respond to your own concern, maybe I can more clearly make the point of my concern about being charged with hyper-Calvinism. You wrote that you are concerned with non-Calvinists being charged with speaking as false witnesses when they accuse Calvinists of being hyper-Calvinists. Let me use your own words as well as your own reasoning to respond:

Is it not at all possible that some could make the charge of "speaking false witness" in a non-classical sense? I think it is. So, while you have settled on a good--perhaps even sophisticated and very technical--definition of exactly what "speaking false witness" happens to be. Yet there do exist some who do not share that working definition and, consequently, confusion will continue in the communication process if that is not recognized.

I think you can see my point. If those who disagree with us continue to characterize us with the misuse of words that have easily discernable definitions, then, yes, confusion will certainly continue in the communication process. But the fault will belong to those who willingly, Humpt-Dumpty-like, change the meaning of words to mean just what they want them to mean.

Have a great day!

SavedandSure said...

Distinguished Doctor,

Have you noticed how many of your correspondents are getting their practice at becoming world famous authors on your blogspot?

And how easy it is for some to forget the subject for discussion? I know a lot of preachers like that. It is called "rabbit chasing."

I chuckle as I read and think maybe I will introduce a resolution at the next SBC to change your blogspot to (NOT Dear Abby or Dear Ann) but DEAR TOMMY.

PROVERB 17:22


PS: The scheduled debate or ENCOUNTER in Lynchburg is already WON by you and your partner.

The bloviating "pit bull" has already LOST it with all his barking, snarling and BAD BEHAVIOR!

Such "foaming at the mouth"
(DOM disease) indicates the strong possibility of severe religious rabies!!

Do not sit too close to the dean of the Falwell schools in October.

PROVERB 17:22

Christopher Redman said...

saved and sure -

There are only so many ways to say the same thing. Caner is incredulous. We are shocked and amazed that a person of his position would engage in such fruitless behavior and speech. We want the debate to go on but only if it glorifies the Lord.

I do like your way of saying it though - bloviating pit bull, barking, screaming, rabies...Good one!

CR

James said...

From the Canons of the Synod of Dort, Second Main Heading:

Article 3 - This death of God's Son is the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.

Article 8 - For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son's costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation. In other words, it was God's will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit's other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle.

While you can see that the EXACT phrase is not found, the terms "sufficient" and "efficient" (e.g., "effective" / "effectiveness") are employed so that the phrase is an accurate description of "Dortian Calvinism."

I would also suggest a reading of the rest of the Canons, particularly from the Second Main Heading, which discuss the mandate for evangelism, human responsibility, etc.

heath lloyd said...

Dear Brother Tom: Thank you for centending for the faith, for being a real gentleman and scholar, and for all that you have done in service to the Lord in bringing Southern Baptists back to its Founders. I have been to several Founders events and have always come away impressed and grateful for the experience. May your tribe increase!
Now as to the Caner situation . . . 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 cannot encourage you to pull out of the debate, but understand the entire matter will probably get worse before it gets better.
I do however encourage you to stand strong in the Lord, seek God's direction (as I am sure you do), and seek to bring Him glory in all things.
I am sorry this is happening.

Greg B said...

Tom and more apt brothers than I:
For the sake of this discussion and hopefully future understanding.
As one who would be described as a Calvinist I would define Hyper-Calvinism as the thought that God's soveriegnty is so great that it absolves Christians of participating in evangelism beyond the meeting house walls. In line with the idea "if God wishes to save the heathen, he can and will do it without you, so why bother."
Biblical Calvinism (or Evangelical) is that God can and will convert folks without us, but he commands us to spread the Gospel to everyone anyway, as our chief purpose is to spread God's glory.
Can someone give us a good definition that Berkoff or even Erickson would use?
Likewise that any church history and systematic theology student would recite in his 2d semester exam. Sorry, my notes are at home.
Chris R-well stated about the difference between logical philosophy and true Bible based theology.
Greg B

irreverend fox said...

Tom,
I'm glad that you made it clear that you are not going to allow yourself to be "pimped" by Jerry. I'd be shocked if brothe Falwell ever used such a term.

This proves, as much as anything, that Caner is truly immature. It is hard to believe that he is the president of anything, let alone an evangelical seminary.

Can you imagine the SHOCK and disappointment that would sweep our convention if anybody found out that Dr. Mohler or Dr. Patterson spoke like that in public?

I am FAR from a leagalist, but come on, talking about "pimping" a theological debate? Whaaaa?

dave woodbury said...

Peter-
Tell me if this analogy is valid in your opinion. If I stated that the vast majority of ministers at SBC churches at homosexual, most people would either laugh at that, dismiss it, or cry foul. Based on the normal understanding of the word, that is simply not true. The vast majority of ministers in SBC churches are not attracted sexually to those of the same sex. But technically, I could reason that "homosexual" simply means "of, related to, or involving the same sex." And it is true that the vast majority of ministers in SBC churches are of the same sex...male. Would it therefore be accurate or even defensible for me to, as a matter of habit, to constantly refer to SBC church ministers as homosexuals? I would have taken a word which has been historically and culturally defined one way and use it in a comepletely unorthodox manner. This is exactly what many ae doing when they refer to Calvinists as "hyper-Calvinists." It is a word used to caricature and disparage the defendant and inflame the masses.

Dave

dave woodbury said...

My second sentence should read *are homosexual* not *at homosexual*

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Dave,

You sure came up with the most potent example I've heard to illustrate that principle. Dr. Caner's mis-use of the term "hyper-Calvinist" and his outright claim to have the right to do so have bothered me greatly. I fear for him, because I know God will not let him get away with such conduct indefinitely.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

revival now said...

Dr. Ascol,

I must admit my excitment when I first learned of this debate. I have met Dr. Caner (Ergun) several times since he spoke at a retreat I attended right after 9/11. It was in his hayday dealing with Islam. I enjoyed hearing him and talking with him, but even then noticed a bit of pride. After reading the email exchanges however ... well, let's just say that whatever respect I had for Dr. Caner has floated out under the door.

I am of the thought that you and Dr. White should proceed with the debate, albeit carefully. I think Steve Camp had some great ideas. My main thought, though is that Jesus said we will be known as His disciples by our love for one another. If nothing else - let true divine love been known and seen by the folks that attend. That will speak as much if not more than anything you or Dr. White could ever verbalize.

Brother Peter,

You write, "Is it not at all possible that some employ the term hypercalvinist in a non-classical sense?" And to John you also state, "Yet there do exist some who do not share that working definition ..."

That's the point, dear brother. Dr. Caner is not unlearned in historical theology. He knows exactly what he is doing. Changing the definition of an already established term is intended to cause confusion and to establish uninformed support based only on emotions - not established historical, theological or even biblical fact.

I am not a hyper-calvinist (in either sense of the word you want). I do not seek to pursuade men of calvinism, I seek to lead them to Christ. Their journey into the truth about grace is the result of simple Bible study.

John said...

Dear James,

Thanks for posting those excerpts from Dordt. I have a lot to learn about that area of church history.

I didn't say that those who believe "Christ's death is [potentially] sufficient" for all are "confused Calvinists". That is a position I believe. It is the "nuanced" position I was refering to. It is those who believe in "general atonement" and yet hold to the other major points of "Calvinism" who are confused. Just a clear concept of what the atonement is should be enough to clarify this issue. If Christ paid for the sins of all, then God has no grounds on which to condemn anyone to hell. Further, Christ Himself described Judas as 'a son of perdition', predestined to fall away. Did Christ die for His sins too? What of the multitudes who had lived and died before Christ who had no faith in God, people God knew had not trusted Him. What sense would it be for Christ to have died for them?

I think I've gotten off track but I do want to defend the proposition that a so-called "four point Calvinist" is confused. Perhaps better than a five point Arminian but still confused.

I hope this isn't "philosophy" but I believe sound exegesis will establish the point even better.

Christopher Redman said...

greg b -

"Biblical Calvinism (or Evangelical) is that God can and will convert folks without us, but he commands us to spread the Gospel to everyone anyway, as our chief purpose is to spread God's glory."

I am assuming that you mean God will convert the elect without our individual witness or preaching but not without the witness and preaching of the gospel by someone.

As I know you already know, no one is saved apart from the preaching of Christ. God has chosen that through the foolishness of preaching the cross to save the lost. Unless we (the body of Christ) preach to them, they will not be saved.

CR

Greg B said...

CR:
Ditto.
Greg

Can someone state a "good", concise definition of the terms?

Leighton Flowers said...

Tom,

I met you sometime ago along with Sam Tullock and Tom Nettles at a founders conference. I was a Calvinist for many years but I have been seriously questioning the doctrine of Total Depravity in the last several years. While I certainly find support for the doctrine of Original Sin and our need to be reconciled from birth, I am not able to find passages which clearly support the belief that the powerful gospel itself is unable to draw an unregenerate man to faith. Is there a way this could be discussed?

Thanks in advance for your time.

Leighton

pkinsc said...

Leighton, (and Tom), if I may try to take a short and perhaps simplistic approach to answering . . .

Total Depravity states that man, left to himself is totally unable to come to God because of his sin. (Isaiah 64:6)

Indeed, the gospel is capable of saving any unregenerate man who believes. (Romans 1:16-17)

But an unregenerate man will not believe unless first enabled and drawn by the Father. (Ephesians 2:1-9 and John 6:44)

Does this help, or am I completely off the mark?

Thirsting for more of Him,
Ken

John said...

Dear Leighton,


Here's some scriptures on total depravity:
Genesis 6:5, "every inclination of his heart was only evil all the time" (as if written by a lawyer to close any conceivable loop-hole we might try to imagine to excuse ourselves from the total influence of sin on our nature.)

Jeremiah: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can understand it? (17:9.)”

Ephesians 2:1, that we are, by nature, dead in our transgressions and sins. We’re not just sick, needing a cure. We’re dead. We are without any capacity to do anything good for God. All our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

Then there is the first half of Romans 3, much of it quotes from Psalms, concluding "there is none righteous, no not one."

Leighton Flowers said...

Ken,

Thanks for your reply. This is the way I would have normally attempted to answer these questions as well, but observe...

You wrote: "Total Depravity states that man, left to himself is totally unable to come to God because of his sin. (Isaiah 64:6)"

I'm not asking about those "left to themselves." I am asking about those confronted with the powerful truth of the gospel. God has sent the powerful message of reconcilation through spirit indwelled believers, his church. Why would we assume that is not enough to draw a unregenerate heart to faith? It that work in bringing the gospel to the world not sufficient in and of itself. Understand my question?

You wrote: Indeed, the gospel is capable of saving any unregenerate man who believes. (Romans 1:16-17)

Yes, but can the gospel lead any unregenerated man to faith? That is the question. As it is often argued, "Faith comes by hearing..."

You wrote: But an unregenerate man will not believe unless first enabled and drawn by the Father. (Ephesians 2:1-9 and John 6:44)

I understand that an unregenerate man must be drawn, but what is to say that the gospel is not the means by which God does that drawing. John 12:32 says that Christ will draw all people to himself once he is raised up. And it was at this time of his ascention that he sent the gospel to be preached to all nations through His bride, the church. Isn't the means God has employeed the proclaimation of the gospel through the church? Why isn't that sufficient to draw unregenerate men? Why wouldn't the ministry and message of reconcilation be sufficient to actually bring reconcilation to those who need it?

Does my question make sense? I just wonder if we haven't taken the consequences of the fall too far by assuming that even God's means of bringing the powerful gospel truth isn't sufficient to lead lost men to repentance and faith.

This question stems from the lack of biblical support for the idea that regeneration preceeds faith.

Col 2:12 -
This happened when you were placed in the tomb with Christ through baptism. In baptism you were also brought back to life with Christ through faith in the power of God, who brought him back to life.

This verse along with several others seems to indicate that we are brought to life through faith, not the other way around.

Joh 20:31 -
But these miracles have been written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and so that you will have life by believing in him

How do you "have life?" "By believing in him." Yet Calvinism insists that we must be regenerated or "made alive" so that we can have faith. I just don't find the support for this.

Any help?

Leighton Flowers said...

John,

Thanks for the verses, but I have wrestled with these as well and I still don't see how they answer my question.

Genesis 6:5, "every inclination of his heart was only evil all the time"

We also have passages which speak of Job, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham which speak of having God's favor and being blameless in his sight. Clearly their every inclination wasn't always evil. It could be said that their inclination would have been evil if left alone and uninfluenced by God, but no one believes that men can do anything good on their own. We are talking about men's ability to respond to God's initial working, not simply his condition if left to himself. Make sense?

Jeremiah: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can understand it? (17:9.)”

I agree, but the bible also tells us that men's hearts are purified through faith. (Acts 15:9) And it appears that faith comes by hearing. How does this verse tell us that the gospel is not sufficient to draw the unregenerate heart to faith?

You wrote: Ephesians 2:1, that we are, by nature, dead in our transgressions and sins. We’re not just sick, needing a cure. We’re dead. We are without any capacity to do anything good for God. All our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

I hung on to these passages the longest insisting that Paul's analogy of being dead must mean that we are totally unable to even respond to God's appeal, but I question the validity of that now. After all, Paul also says we, as believers, are "dead to sin." Does that mean we are unable to sin? No. Also, it was explained to me that Paul's meaning could simply be illustrating our seperation from God spiritually and our need to be reconciled. Like when an earthly father might say to a rebellious son, "You are dead to me." This wouldn't necessarily imply that the son would be unable to respond to a reconcilatory message from the father, would it? I don't think so. It just seems weak to me. Especially in light of the many passages which speak of the power of God's word. It is sharper than any two edged sword cutting even into the soul, it is "the power of God unto salvation," etc... Why would we assume this Word is not sufficient to bring life to a dead soul?

You wrote: Then there is the first half of Romans 3, much of it quotes from Psalms, concluding "there is none righteous, no not one."

Yes, but in verse 21 it switches to talk about the righteousness being revealed from heaven apart from the law. So, the first part of Romans 3 seems to declare the righteousness pursued by works is impossible, but righteousness by faith in the one who has fulfilled the law is possible as evidenced by Abraham, who believed and it was credited to him as righteousness. It appears that we have taken passages that speak of our condition under the law and applied them to our condition under grace. Sending the gospel is an act of divine grace and I just don't see where the scripture teaches that it is not a sufficient work of grace to lead any unregenerate man to faith and new life.

I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just looking at these passages objectively. Have we taken the consequences of the fall too far?

Darel said...

It is the work of the Spirit through the means of the preaching of the Gospel.

Elsewise, "They would hear and believe". It's not a matter of the mere hearing, but the Spirit's work. Yes, if a man understands the gospel, then it is sufficient to lead him to faith. Yet, we all know that there are those that "hear" the gospel, but they don't "hear" the gospel... if you catch my meaning. The phrase "falls on deaf ears" is appropriate.

When the Spirit of God works through the preaching of the Gospel, men are saved. If the Spirit does not "open the ears", then they will, by their nature and their own free choice, reject it. The Gospel is certainly sufficient for any man who heeds it. Those who heed it are those that have had their ears opened to it by the work of the Spirit.

Jon D said...

Leighton,

Can you explain to me why you made a better use of God's grace than a person who hears the gospel and rejects?

Were you smarter? More spiritual? Lucky? Or do you believe, with us, that grace alone is the only explanation as to why you made a better use of God's gospel than one who rejected?

What was the determinative factor in your salvation? What, from your unregenerate nature, distinguished you from one who would refuse to obey the gospel?

Confessing that it is grace alone puts you at odds biblically and logically with a denial of total depravity.

Leighton Flowers said...

Darel,

Thank you for your reply.

You wrote: Elsewise, "They would hear and believe". It's not a matter of the mere hearing, but the Spirit's work. Yes, if a man understands the gospel, then it is sufficient to lead him to faith. Yet, we all know that there are those that "hear" the gospel, but they don't "hear" the gospel... if you catch my meaning. The phrase "falls on deaf ears" is appropriate.

But only those with hardened hearts have become deaf, blind and unable to understand and repent, right?

Acts 28:27 For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' 28 "Therefore I want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!"

Notice the word "otherwise" in this text. It tells us the ability of these men had they not "grown calloused" or "become hardened." They "might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them." How might that happen if they were born essentially hardened? How does a man born blind grow blinder still? It appears to me that Israel grew blind after years of continual rebellion, but nothing is said about their being born in that condition, is there?

In contrast, Paul even goes on to say "the Gentiles will listen." Why would he make that contrasting statement if both Jews and Gentiles were equally born hardened and blind?

You wrote: When the Spirit of God works through the preaching of the Gospel, men are saved. If the Spirit does not "open the ears", then they will, by their nature and their own free choice, reject it. The Gospel is certainly sufficient for any man who heeds it. Those who heed it are those that have had their ears opened to it by the work of the Spirit.

This doesn't address my question. We all agree that men's eyes must be opened by a work of the Spirit. The question is whether or not the work of the Spirit in bringing the powerful gospel truth is sufficient alone. You appear to argue that it is not because there needs to be the work of the spirit to "open the ears" but you are merely begging the question by assuming the ears have been hardened or calloused from birth due to their fallen condition. I need biblical support for that belief, not just an explaination of it. Thanks

pkinsc said...

Leighton, thank you for trusting us with your questions, and for giving us the opportunity to reason together.

As I ponder some of your questions, and how I might respond to them, I am curious about one element in your posts.

You have asked "Have we taken the consequences of the Fall too far?" How far are you willing to take that question?

The reason I ask is that that question is the very heart of the issue. If man is truly, completely, hopelessly fallen, we are absolutely dependent on God's intervening quickening to be made alive spiritually.

If we are not truly, completely and hopelessly fallen, then there is hope that man is not that bad off and taken to it's logical end could imply that man could rally to save himself. This makes the cross a farce, and the sacrifice of Jesus unnecessary.

Now, you may never take that line of reasoning as far as I said it could be. But as I am sure you are already aware, many cults, false religions, and liberal theologies all begin with the thought "Maybe man is not totally ruined".

Please, read these comments in the tone of a gentle caution in the midst of your theological wrestling than an accusation of what you currently believe.

Again, I look forward to dialoguing in the future.

Leighton Flowers said...

Jon,

You asked, "Can you explain to me why you made a better use of God's grace than a person who hears the gospel and rejects?"

I have often used this approach to address these objections myself, but it really is a red herring. I will attempt to address this question below nonetheless, but I will still be looking for biblical support for Total Depravity.

You asked: Were you smarter? More spiritual? Lucky? Or do you believe, with us, that grace alone is the only explanation as to why you made a better use of God's gospel than one who rejected?

I think this question can be turned around by asking you why are you a Calvinist and other believers (such as Wesley) were not? Are you smarter, more spiritual, lucky? or do you believe that God granted you some measure of grace he neglected to give to other believers such as John Wesley? If so, why do you suppose he neglected to grant this ability to Wesley? Does God elect some of his elect to believe correct soteriology and keep it from the rest?

There is a reason I ask this question. We are so concerned about making sure there is no reason for us to boast, but what boasting does scripture actually forbid? Is it the boasting of an "Arminian" who thinks he made a free choice to follow Christ? Or was Paul addressing the boasting of the Jews who believed salvation came by works of the law? I think its obviously the latter and it seems to be a poor application of the author's intent to apply such passages to this doctrinal question.

Look at the boasting that scripture does allow:

Jer 9:24 -
but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.

2Co 1:12 -
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace.

2Co 1:14 -
as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.

2Co 10:8 -
For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it.

2Co 11:30 -
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

2Co 12:5 -
I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

2Co 12:6 -
Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say

2Co 12:9 -
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

2Th 1:4 -
Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

Heb 3:6 -But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

It appear boasting is allowed to some degree. The boasting that is prohibited seems to be from those who pursue righteousness as if it is through works, not those who believe as we all do that righteousness is only attained through belief in the one who fulfills that law.

Greg B said...

Ken:
I think you a hit the nail on the head. Did Christ die just so we could make adjustments to our behaviour or did He die to break and change our hearts at the very core.
Where does Romans 3 and 5 come in here. Particularly 3:10-18/restating quotes from the Psalms?
Ken, where do you all meet in Monks Corner? I used to be in Summerville. My eldest and her family are still there and the old 1st Church is getting harder to deal with every year.
Greg B

Leighton Flowers said...

pkinsc said...
Leighton, thank you for trusting us with your questions, and for giving us the opportunity to reason together.

Thank you for your kindness toward me. I look foward to learning and reasoning together objectively on this most important matter.

YOU WROTE: You have asked "Have we taken the consequences of the Fall too far?" How far are you willing to take that question? The reason I ask is that that question is the very heart of the issue. If man is truly, completely, hopelessly fallen, we are absolutely dependent on God's intervening quickening to be made alive spiritually.

I agree, this is the root of the question. I do think we all agree that we are absolutely dependent on God's intervening and our need to for new life, but as I have pointed out using scripture, it appears that new life is accomplished through faith, not the other way around. Could it be that the means God has chosen to quicken us is through the proclaimation of gospel and not some secret inward irresistable calling?

YOU WROTE: If we are not truly, completely and hopelessly fallen, then there is hope that man is not that bad off and taken to it's logical end could imply that man could rally to save himself. This makes the cross a farce, and the sacrifice of Jesus unnecessary.

I don't believe so. How will they believe unless they hear? No one is going to come to faith unless they hear the Spirit's words. Jesus said, "The words I speak to you are spirit and life." Words have power. Truth will set men free. I just wonder if we haven't downplayed the power of the gospel in converting the soul by insisting that God must do some extra irresistable working in order for it to be effective. Make sense?

YOU WROTE: Now, you may never take that line of reasoning as far as I said it could be. But as I am sure you are already aware, many cults, false religions, and liberal theologies all begin with the thought "Maybe man is not totally ruined".

I hear ya. And I am being careful not to take any thing to far here. I do believe we are fallen and in need of reconcilation, as the scripture clearly reveals, but why wouldn't the ministry and message of reconcilation be able to remedy that condition? Why is regeneration first needed and where does scripture teach us this?

YOU WROTE: Please, read these comments in the tone of a gentle caution in the midst of your theological wrestling than an accusation of what you currently believe. Again, I look forward to dialoguing in the future.

Your words are heard and appreciated. My questions are not intended to grant to men anything that scripture itself doesn't grant. I certainly acknowledge that if left to ourselves nothing could be accomplished, but it certainly seems with the work of Christ here on earth, the inspiration of the scripture, the sending of the church and the indwelling of all believers as messengers of this powerful truth would be sufficient to draw even an unregenerate man to faith and thus new life.

I would love for you to address the passages I have quoted which seem to say that new life is accomplished through faith, not the other way around. Thanks for your time.

scripturesearcher said...

Dear Tommy,

You have the busiest, best, most frequented and by far the most interesting Christian BLOG in the entire south, north, east and west.

And the TWO main reasons are:

1. Your subject or topic, and

2. The energetic, intelligient,
quality of the bloggers.

PERSEVERE! PRESS ON!

Darel said...

Leighton, I appreciate your candor and spirit.

I apologize if I wasn't as helpful as needed. I had imagined that you were only looking for an explanation of the Scripture that you had already read. An explanation that put together the pieces in a logical fashion.

After reading your comments, I got the impression, and I may be very mistaken, that you were using different meanings than I was for the work of the Spirit.

You said that we "agree that men's eyes must be opened by a work of the Spirit". You then equate "work of the Spirit" with "preaching the gospel". What I meant by the phrase "work of the Spirit" was a spiritual work on the heart of a man, as distinct from the preaching of the gospel. That the Spirit uses the opportunity provided by the preaching and works on the heart. I do not think we disagree so much there, only maybe I wasn't using the right words.

The question, I suppose, should just circle back to this one issue: Is man Totally Depraved from birth? That is, are the ears deaf, hearts hardened, from birth.

We have heard many Scriptures already on this issue, and I will appeal to the same thing I appealed to in the previous comment: Look around. Children begin to sin from the moment that they are capable. And we know that sin separates us from God, which is as "hardening their hearts". So the "callousing" as you put it, begins from the first moment they are able to sin.

I fear I am out of time... I wish you luck. God bless.

IN HIS NAME said...

The "ELECT" will hear the "WORD" when preached and be called. The "NON-ELECT will not hear the WORD when preached. I CALL THIS THE "WAKE-UP CALL". The WORD must be Preached, and that is a PROBLEM in a lot of CHURCHES. Remember the GREAT COMMISSION.
A Brother in CHRIST

pkinsc said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pkinsc said...

Greg B - could you please e-mail me directly so that I don't distract any farther from Tom's original post?

Leighton - I must run now for our Praise and Prayer time. I will continue to ponder your questions, and may God continue to guide us in His Truth through His Word and Spirit.

Tom - as to your original post - you certainly have my prayers for your wisdom. I am, as another has said, thankful that I don't have to make the decision myself. May God continue to use you and this process for His glory.

Your Brother in Christ - Ken

Jon D said...

Leighton,

Great retort! So, you feel comfortable boasting in that fact that you were either smarter, more spiritual or lucky than one who rejects the gospel? Grace plus what, then?

Please humor me and tell me what was the decisive factor in your salvation if it was not grace.

In response, I would easily say that any of my proper understanding of Scripture comes through the Spirit's illuminating work (be it Calvinism, Trinitarianism or even eschatology). If a person does not apprehend the truth, the blame goes to their hardness of heart. If they do apprehend it, the praise goes to God and His grace. He owes no man any grace whatsoever. I boast no inherent strength over an Arminian or a Unitarian, for that matter. Why else would Paul "...pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." ?

Do you believe that the power of knowing is God's to give or not? If not, then why would Paul pray such a thing? Can a person have it outside of God giving it? Can God overcome our hard-heartedness to give it to us? If not, why Paul's prayer?

Notice that even the "God-fearer" Lydia requred an opening of her heart. She still required a divine and decisive act, though she was initially favorably described.

The object of boasting in these verses is never the self's inherent accomplishment over another (with the exception of 2 Cor 12:6 where Paul declares that his pre-conversion boasts would have been in accordance with, indeed exceeded, the truth of what men generally boast about. Others are fools when they boast because they don't measure up to the human standard that they set. Notice that Paul is laboring, however, to eschew credit from his boasts.) To boast in my weakness is another way to say that I am boldly pointing at the overcoming power of God.

I appreciate you and your searching questions, brother.

Jon Dansby

Jon D said...

I do believe in the use of means, by the way. Preaching, studying, praying, worshiping, fellowship. I'm not necessarily talking about immediate impartation of knowledge, though God may do that if he likes. It's His prerogative.

John said...

Dear Leighton,

Hi. You wrote: "We are talking about men's ability to respond to God's initial working, not simply his condition if left to himself. Make sense?"

With all due respect, no, it doesn't make sense. Man's ability to respond to God's initial working is the heart of his lostness (his deadness in sin) if left to himself. The very heart of total depravity is that left to himself man is not able to respond to God. His condition left to himself is vividly described in Genesis 6:5, "Every inclination of his heart is only evil all the time." Note how deep and sweeping that is. It's not just that all our actions are tainted by sin but that the very inclinations of our hearts are sinful. Not some inclinations. Every. Not some of the time. All the time. Chosing for God, i.e. believing, is the best "work" we could do. But left to ourselves we would never do it because "every inclination of our heart is only evil all the time."

That being our state without God, every righteous person in the Bible (or otherwise) is so because of the gracious work of God, not because they called on "the better angels of our nature" -- since there are no better angels in our nature (every inclination, only evil, all the time!).

You wrote that "faith is purified by faith." Yes, and Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that faith is a gift. Even repentance is a gift. No fallen person will chose to believe and repent because . . . Gn. 6:5, Jer. 17:9, Isaiah and the "filthy rags," etc.

Also, quite frankly, no one (orthodox) is saying that the "gospel is not sufficient." But the Spirit's call has to be made. It is not just a matter of bare words with no Spirit making the words effective. We err when either, like the so-called "hyper-Calvinist" we say God doesn't need means, He'll call His elect without them, or, on the other hand, the means can somehow work without God. You can preach to dead bones but they won't come alive until the Spirit blows.

There also seems to be an inaccurate understanding of law and gospel. The law is really part of the gospel, preparing people for it. The "evangelical use of the law" is the most important part of the law.
jc

John said...

Dear Leighton,

Hi. You wrote: " I have pointed out using scripture, it appears that new life is accomplished through faith, not the other way around." 1 John 5:1 says that new life, regeneration, comes first; then faith. Faith is a fruit of life. A dead tree cannot produce such a living fruit. We first have to make the tree good. There's some discussion about this on the "Regeneration" thread which I'd encourage you to examine.

IN HIS NAME said...

Dr TOM,
I appreciate and PHRASE GOD for your standing for the TRUTH (“GOD’S WORD”), I’ am praying for you in regard to the debate.
Your Brother in CHRIST

Leighton Flowers said...

Darel,

No need to apologize brother, I probably was not clear.

YOU WROTE: You said that we "agree that men's eyes must be opened by a work of the Spirit". You then equate "work of the Spirit" with "preaching the gospel". What I meant by the phrase "work of the Spirit" was a spiritual work on the heart of a man, as distinct from the preaching of the gospel.

I totally understand what you meant, I was merely attempting to find out why we assume that this extra distinct work is necessary. Shouldn't scripture establish that the work of Spirit in bringing the gospel is not sufficient without an extra distinct work of regeneration? I am not finding that clearly taught in scripture. I'm finding many verses which speak of the power of the gospel and the sufficiency of God's word which makes me wonder why an extra working would be necessary.

I'm also finding passages which speak of new life coming through faith and not the other way around. This seems to contradict the belief that we must be made alive in order to have faith. I listed some of those passages earlier.

You wrote: The question, I suppose, should just circle back to this one issue: Is man Totally Depraved from birth? That is, are the ears deaf, hearts hardened, from birth.

I think the fact that scripture speaks of men "growing" and "becoming" hardened, otherwise "they might see, hear, understand and repent" shows that this is not a condition from birth, don't you?

You wrote: We have heard many Scriptures already on this issue, and I will appeal to the same thing

With all due respect the passage supported the idea of Original Sin or being seperated from God, but none of them seem to support the idea of being deaf, blind or unable to understand and repent once confronted with the word of God.

YOU WROTE: I appealed to in the previous comment: Look around. Children begin to sin from the moment that they are capable. And we know that sin separates us from God, which is as "hardening their hearts". So the "callousing" as you put it, begins from the first moment they are able to sin.

I agree, but they aren't born hardened and calloused, which is my only point. This is significant in light of the fact that scripture says "otherwise they might see, hear, understand and repent." This shows that those who have yet to grow hardened to the gospel might hear it and repent, right? Paul says the Gentiles will hear it in Acts 28:28, in contrast to the Jews who have grown calloused. Doesn't that mean that those who have not "grown hardened" might see, hear and believe?

peter lumpkins said...

My Brothers Dave & Dr Ascol

Dr. Ascol, I think you choice of text last Lord’s Day must have produced spiritual Excellencies from our Lord to His people. I wish myself to have been there.

Also, I thank you for your very poignant response to my point about the possible mistakenness of language and getting around to clear communication, specifically about hyper vs. non-hyper when discussing Calvinism.

Thank you also, Dave, for your dandy little analogy you offered to explain the differences terms and words make when we talk to and about one another, especially about theological issues which tend to produce such unbearable heat sometimes, that we all suffer boils and blisters.

I honestly think it is a clever way of looking at it. But as we shall see, your analogy itself must be analogized before it is as helpful as we would like. I hope you don’t mind me using it in the future after I have tweaked it a tad :D

The problem I see in the analogy, as it stands, Dave, is not it its structure per se. Rather the proverbial Achilles’ softspot is the stated presumption concerning the definition of homosexual as “the normal understanding of the word”.

My question is: Normal to whom? For your analogy to succeed, normal must mean normal to the vast majority of all present including even those who would proudly proclaim themselves as closet-free. Thus, the overwhelming result of laughter, protest and contempt.

However, my very point is that there is no such universal definition about exactly how some theological terms—including hypercalvinism, but emphatically not limited to it--can unilaterally be employed. Context, context, context echoes from every Bible preacher, does it not? And surely you agree, Dave, that it is difficult to get Calvinists & Arminians to agree on definitions, much less to, in one sweeping harmony, to get all to agree on what a Calvinist is to an Arminian or what an Arminian is to a Calvinist.

Let’s change your analogy a bit and see what happens. Suppose we were at the 1953 SBC. A bold Pastor climbed to the platform and pronounced:

“Brothers, I don’t know about you, but the Christian life is a gay life! God calls not only all Pastors all over this convention to be gay, He calls all His children to be gay. God is gay! I am gay, and by his grace, you need to be gay too!”

And while no sniggers or protests would exist in the golden '53 over the Pastor’s challenge which was based upon a text calling for the believer to be filled with joy, today, however, would be a different story.

Indeed, the Pastor would rightly be defrocked and charged with degenerate heresy for so much as implying that God is gay, much less we His children. The simple point is gay means something far different by massive portions of the population including those who happily parade themselves during Gay Pride.

Is it too much, then, to reason in reverse? That is, while at one time, hypercalvinism perhaps exclusively identified those who perverted historic Calvinism, today—and evidently unhappily for many historic Calvinists--many use hypercalvinism in not so near a hard, historical sense.

Rather, hypercalvinism may be used by many arminian-leaning believers as indicative of those particular Calvinists who insist on exclusively equating historic Calvinism with Biblical Christianity and aggressively promoting Calvinism to non-Calvinistic believers.

If this scenario is at all credible, that would at least mean that many who charge Founders Calvinists with hypercalvinism are doing nothing more than saying “stop trying to proselyte me and my church.” However much they may be mistaken or even unaware about how the term was technically employed, it does not necessarily follow that they are lying about Founders Calvinists or disparaging Calvinism per se. They are merely using the term in a very soft sense.

Nor does it seem to me, Dr. Ascol, that your lesson in logic—for which, by the way, my brother, I heartily thank you—fares any more successfully in essence than Dave’s dandy little analogy.

Aside from blurring the differences between a term denoting a moral absolute given in Scripture (i.e., bearing false witness) and a sophisticated theological term like Calvinism, which, as surely we agree, carries a ton of cache terms with it, let me show you what I mean.

In another post at 8:01 AM, June 01, 2006, you wrote to Dave these words (perhaps another Dave altogether):

“What you are thinking about doing has been my standard response for a while. When I respond to the question, "Are you a Calvinist?" with "What do you mean by that?" the answers often run along the stereotypical lines of one who doesn't believe in evangelism or missions, etc. Once that is made clear, I respond, "Then, no, I am not a Calvinist; at least not one like you just described." I have had some fruitful discussions as a result.”


I can only assume you mean from your “fruitful discussions”, Dr. Ascol, that you clarified that there are kinds of Calvinists that you definitively are not a part. If it is possible, then, that there exists different kinds of Calvinists, is it incredible to assume there could exist different kinds of hypercalvinists?

That is, there may exist at least two: the old-line, hard type of hypercalvinism which mainstream Calvinism itself rightly rejected on the one hand and more contemporary, softer hypercalvinism that, while not committing the horrendous theological errors of the old, nevertheless, many arminian-leaning evangelicals use it to describe excessively aggressive Calvinists--those Calvinists who insist on equating Biblical Christianity with developed Calvinism--on the other. Or, simply employing “hyper” toward those Calvinists who attempt to proselytize non-Calvinists to Calvinism.


Consequently, when it is acknowledged by some linguists that such a nuance of hypercalvinism is anything but out of the sphere of cultural acceptance, I do not at all think that what I contend is an untenable position.

Indeed, at least from my view, I think it can lead to a heck of a lot less heated rhetoric.

I trust you both to have a grace filled evening. With that, I am...

Peter

Leighton Flowers said...

Jon, I'll attempt to put my replies in bold...

Great retort! So, you feel comfortable boasting in that fact that you were either smarter, more spiritual or lucky than one who rejects the gospel? Grace plus what, then?

Grace mixed with faith? Afterall, we are rewarded for faith and condemned for the lack of it. The whole reward and punishment system seems meaningless if there isn't something that we are geniunly responsible for, right?


In response, I would easily say that any of my proper understanding of Scripture comes through the Spirit's illuminating work (be it Calvinism, Trinitarianism or even eschatology). If a person does not apprehend the truth, the blame goes to their hardness of heart. If they do apprehend it, the praise goes to God and His grace.

I suppose the same could be said of those who respond in faith to the gospel. If they do not apprehend the truth the blame goes to their hardeness of heart, not God's lack of provision, just as if they do apprehend it, the praise goes to God and his provision of grace.

Notice that even the "God-fearer" Lydia requred an opening of her heart. She still required a divine and decisive act, though she was initially favorably described.

But being a "God worshiper" (the actual words) I'm not so sure Lydia can be a good example of God regenerating a totally depraved individual, do you?


Thanks for your time!

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

Opps! I am so very sorry, my brother. I missed reading an entire post you wrote addressed to little old me. However, after considering it, I do feel I addressed the gist of it in my combined post to you and brother Dave.

Grace, Dr. Ascol. With that, and still hanging around, I am...

Humpty Dumpty

Jon D said...
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Tom said...

ztPeter:

Thank you for your comment and continued engagement of this question. I really wish that you would also continue the dialogue we were having on the Regeneration thread regarding what you comically called, "The Doctrine of Church Rolls." 1 Timothy 5:9 awaits your exegesis to further the very helpful exchange that was taking place there when you thought it best to follow that piece of wisdom from Solomon that says there is a time to refrain from speaking. I hope that you were not provoked to silence on that thread because of anything that was written in response to your views. You bring a helpful perspective to our ongoing dialogues and are always welcome.

But that is not the point of this comment! :-) Your dismissal of my use of your own words to make a point (which you so graciously called a "lesson in logic" though I did not intend it that way originally) does not strike me as justified. Your reasons, as I understand them, are two in number.

First, you see my comparing the intelligibility and use of terms of the 9th commandment with the intelligibility and use of the term "hyper-Calvinist" as a significant blurring of their differences. While I agree wholeheartedly with you that one comes from the inerrant Word of God and the other from the annals of historical theology, their different sources have nothing to do with my point. Let me try to restate it in a clearer way.

Despite the authoritative nature of the words of the 9th commandment, you would agree, would you not, that people have held differing opinions as to what exactly constitutes bearing false witness? Those differences have nothing to do with the authoritative source of the words, but rather with the understanding of them. So, to use your own words again, "while you have settled on a good--perhaps even sophisticated and very technical--definition of exactly what "speaking false witness" happens to be," is it not also "possible that some could make the charge of "speaking false witness" in a non-classical sense? I think it is."

The difference, as you yourself have described it, is not in the source but in the use of words. So your first objection did not convince me that my argument was invalid.

Your second reason for dismissing my example is built on your use of my own words from June 1. I am amazed and humbled that you would remember them from that long ago! I barely remember what I said last week. My response to a questioner who wonders if I am a Calvinist is built on the recognition that many honest people do not have a good understanding of the historical definition of that word. When it is properly understood in its historical usage (which can be determined and is not at all that ambiguous), I am happy to own the label. When it is misunderstood and frought with erroneous notions, I am not happy to be called that.

This is a far different scenario than the one that most of us are concerned with here. Here we are not lamenting an honest person's possible misunderstanding of a definable theological term. Rather, we are lamenting the fact that the President of Liberty Theological Seminary would consistently charge us with hyper-Calvinism when he has been corrected repeatedly about his misuse of the term. Is it unreasonable to expect a *President* of a seminary to use theological terms accurately? Further, is it unreasonable to expect a professing Christian--a leader, to boot--to stop using a pejorative term of other brothers, when he has been repeatedly encouraged to do so?

Peter, what would you say of a Christian leader who called you a Pelagian, even after you had expressed your disavowal of Pelagianism in the clearest possible language? If he continued to call you that, and refer to you as that to others, what would you think of him?

I guess another way of asking this is to simply put it to you plainly: Do you defend Dr. Caner's calling us hyper-Calvinists despite being told that doing so is misrepresenting us?

As always, I appreciate the dialogue with you. I hope you have a wonderful evening of praying with the saints (if your church meets this evening for that purpose; ours does and I am looking forward to it!).

Jon D said...
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Jon D said...

Leighton,

I appreciate your time. I think you've missed the point of my question. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Nobody is saying that faith is not a requisite for salvation. The question is, why did you make a better use of God's grace (i.e. faith) than a person who rejects? If grace was not DETERMINATIVE, then what caused you to exercise your faith in God's grace while another rejected? Your better use of God's grace, otherwise known as faith, was caused by __________? It cannot be grace alone if you are to remain consistent.

Regarding responsibility: As it stands, would you say that your theology raises the question of God, "Why does he still find fault? For who resists his will?" Or is your theology busy trying to avoid having that question raised? If your theology does not raise that question to one who overhears you explain your system, then you have a different theology than Paul in that area. We certainly believe in the responsibility of men, but not to the point where we have no questions. Again, does your reading of election and depravity RAISE or ANSWER the question "Why does he still find fault? For who resists his will?" I am glad to let my unresolved questions stand with Paul's unresolved questions.

I think it is strange for you to say that somebody's lack of belief can be "blamed" on God's lack of provision. Again, God owes no man anything.

You have made my point about Lydia for me. If somebody who was called a "worshiper of God" STILL REQUIRED God's work of opening her heart, then it would follow that all others would need a similar effectual work. If even the best need decisive grace, then certainly all the rest do, also.

Thanks for your patience, brother.

Jon

Leighton Flowers said...

John, I'll put my responses in bold...

YOU WROTE: With all due respect, no, it doesn't make sense. Man's ability to respond to God's initial working is the heart of his lostness (his deadness in sin) if left to himself. The very heart of total depravity is that left to himself man is not able to respond to God.

Yes, I understand, and I'm looking for biblical support for the idea that the powerful truth of the gospel does not enable faith.


His condition left to himself is vividly described in Genesis 6:5, "Every inclination of his heart is only evil all the time." Note how deep and sweeping that is. It's not just that all our actions are tainted by sin but that the very inclinations of our hearts are sinful. Not some inclinations. Every. Not some of the time. All the time. Chosing for God, i.e. believing, is the best "work" we could do. But left to ourselves we would never do it because "every inclination of our heart is only evil all the time."

Is believing ever said to be a work? If so, regardless of whether you are a Calvinist or not it could be said that we are saved by grace through a work. Do you believe that we are saved through a work?

You wrote that "faith is purified by faith." Yes, and Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that faith is a gift. Even repentance is a gift. No fallen person will chose to believe and repent because . . . Gn. 6:5, Jer. 17:9, Isaiah and the "filthy rags," etc.

Actually scripture says the heart is purified by faith, which seems to be contradictory to the idea that a new heart must be given through regeneration in order for one to even come to faith, don't you think?

dave woodbury said...

Peter-
I acknowledge and appreciate your critique of my analogy. And I suppose the issue does hinge on the "normal understanding" of a word in light of the speaker and the audience.

In the case of Dr. Caner (the speaker), he is well aware of the historical definition of hyper-Calvinism. I would suspect that his audience is primarily made up of both the target of the accusations (and make no mistake, he doesn't use the term in any benign sense) and those who have no idea what hyper-Calvinists are. I'll admit that this is pure speculation on my part, but bear with me.

Those who are the targets of his accusations are aware that they are not hyper-Calvinists in the historical sanse of the word and so they take offense. Dr. Caner makes no effort to explain his choice of words or his new definition of an established word. Instead of allowing his words to be communicated accurately and as intended, he has (apparently) intentionally allowed definitions to become muddled. I truly hope that I am wrong and that this was not his aim.

On the other side of the aisle you have those who are not themselves Calvinists, maybe because they have never heard of Calvinism or studied it, or maybe because they have considered it and rejected it. But when Dr. Caner uses the phrase and doesn't define it according to his use, he leaves it up to the hearer to decide what it means. For those who have never had any exposure to historical theology, they may decide to go looking for a definition for this new-found term. I doubt seriously that they will read or discover anywhere that a "hyper-calvinist" is a very excited, eager, devoted Calvinist. What they will find is the historical heresy. Then going back to Dr. White and Dr. Ascol, they are made out to be something they are not.

I believe the speaker is responsible, not only for saying what he means, but for making sure, as much as it is reasonable, that his hearers understand what he is attempting to communicate.

Dave

Leighton Flowers said...

John,

You wrote: You wrote: " I have pointed out using scripture, it appears that new life is accomplished through faith, not the other way around." 1 John 5:1 says that new life, regeneration, comes first; then faith. Faith is a fruit of life. A dead tree cannot produce such a living fruit. We first have to make the tree good. There's some discussion about this on the "Regeneration" thread which I'd encourage you to examine.

First, could you address the passages that I listed which clearly state that new life comes through faith.

It seems to me 1 John 5:1 could be taken more than one way and that it really doesn't explicitly tell us which must be first. The verses I have listed are very clear that life is accomplished through faith...I'll repost them here...

Col 2:12 -
This happened when you were placed in the tomb with Christ through baptism. In baptism you were also brought back to life with Christ through faith in the power of God, who brought him back to life.

This verse along with several others seems to indicate that we are brought to life through faith, not the other way around.

Joh 20:31 -
But these miracles have been written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and so that you will have life by believing in him

How do you "have life?" "By believing in him." Yet Calvinism insists that we must be regenerated or "made alive" so that we can have faith. I just don't find the support for this.

Leighton Flowers said...

Hi Jon, My responses are in bold...

I appreciate your time. I think you've missed the point of my question. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Nobody is saying that faith is not a requisite for salvation. The question is, why did you make a better use of God's grace (i.e. faith) than a person who rejects? If grace was not DETERMINATIVE, then what caused you to exercise your faith in God's grace while another rejected? Your better use of God's grace, otherwise known as faith, was caused by __________? It cannot be grace alone if you are to remain consistent.

I think you may be begging the question by assuming that faith itself is a gift of grace accomplished through regeneration, when that is the point in question. Remember how you answered the question regarding why some believers are Calvinists while others are not? That is ultimately the same answer that I could give to you regarding this question. Your accepting the "truth of Calvinism" was caused by _____________?

In other words I believe Arminians don't have a problem giving credit to man for his faith. It has been drilled into us as Calvinists that this is unacceptable, but I'm questioning that because of the whole reward and punishment system revealed in scripture. It does seem strange that God would reward men for doing what he made them do and punishing men for not doing what he made them not able to do. It also seems strange for Christ to rebuke men for their lack of faith if God is the one who must irresistably cause it. Also, have you thought about how many passages speak of God's patience with men? What is he waiting on? If he is the one who does everything what is the purpose in speaking of his patience and longsuffering?


Regarding responsibility: As it stands, would you say that your theology raises the question of God, "Why does he still find fault? For who resists his will?" Or is your theology busy trying to avoid having that question raised? If your theology does not raise that question to one who overhears you explain your system, then you have a different theology than Paul in that area. We certainly believe in the responsibility of men, but not to the point where we have no questions. Again, does your reading of election and depravity RAISE or ANSWER the question "Why does he still find fault? For who resists his will?" I am glad to let my unresolved questions stand with Paul's unresolved questions.

I relied on this very argument for many years too, but it has also been brought into question. As Calvinists we assume that Paul is addressing the Arminian objection, "Why would God blame a man who is born totally depraved and not elected, for who resist his will." But is that really the question Paul is addressing? I don't think so anymore.

He is addressing the objection of Jew who is being temporarily hardened in his rebellion. So the actual objection is: "Why would God blame a man (Jews) who has continually rebelled (Rm. 10:21) but now has been sealed or hardened in that rebellion, for who resists God will?" What is God's will in hardening the Jews? He accomplished redemption on the cross, because it was the hardened Jews who cried out "Crucify Him!" And it allowed for the Gentiles to be grafted in. But those hardened in Romans 9 are spoken of again in Romans 11 and in verse 11-14 Paul makes it quite clear that these men might be provoked to envy and come to faith. How can they be the "reprobates" of Calvinism if Paul thinks they might come to salvation? See my point?


I think it is strange for you to say that somebody's lack of belief can be "blamed" on God's lack of provision. Again, God owes no man anything.

I hear ya. I agree. God owes us nothing, but we are talking about what scripture reveals about what God has provided. I'm just searching for biblical support for this notion that what God has provided through the means of the gospel is not enough and thus a work of regeneration must be provided in order for anyone who hears it to come to faith.

You have made my point about Lydia for me. If somebody who was called a "worshiper of God" STILL REQUIRED God's work of opening her heart, then it would follow that all others would need a similar effectual work. If even the best need decisive grace, then certainly all the rest do, also.

First, it doesn't say the work is required or that its effectual. We really don't know what God did to "open her heart" or whether she could have resisted that working. I would just like to know how a totally depraved, spiritually dead, unregenerate individual could be called a God worshiper.

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this with me.

Greg B said...

Ladies and Gentlemen:
I submit the following description and definition of hypercalvinism. Does this find everyone agreeable?
This is from wikipedia. One of their related articles is on Westboro Baptist Church-yes the God hates everybody people. Learned more about them than I wanted to. Will soon die out because of inbreeding


It is called Hyper-Calvinism by its critics, who maintain that it deviates from the biblical gospel bydenying that the call of the gospel to repent and believe is universal, i.e. for all alike, and
denying that the unregenerate (natural) man has a duty to repent and believe in Christ for salvation because he does not have the "power" to believe in Christ.
Greg B

John said...

Dear Leighton,

Hi. As addressed in the "Regeneration" thread, 1John 5:1 is often mistranslated, including in the KJV and NIV. The past perfect tense (for "born") is not captured by most translations. It says something like, 'Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.' The regeneration is first, then the faith.

The other two verses you mention point to faith being the "means" of salvation: "through faith". Yes, we are brought to life "through faith". The life would apparently be the whole "life" (not just the initial regeneration), concluding with glorification, that is offered (and given) to God's people. The word is preached to people dead in their sins. (People dead in sin are not like saved people now who have both a fallen and a regenerate nature, one still sinful and the other "dead to sin." People dead in their trespasses and sins have only the fallen nature which is "dead" [not just sick or weak] to God.) The Spirit makes the dead live, through the sufficient gospel, and they immediately have faith. Through that faith (which is a gift, Eph. 2:9-10), they repent (which is a gift, 2Tim. 2:25), and cling to Christ. Nothing in their hands they bring, not even "the better angels of their nature."

The natural person could not possibly produce faith because "every inclination in his heart is only evil all the time."

justonewoman said...

Dr. Ascol,
I am so sorry that you have taken such grief over a debate with a fellow brother. I am constantly telling my 3 children that "Love is kind". I am so sad to see a very unkind heart in this fellow man. After reading what the young Liberty girl said about Dr. Caner, it makes me even more sad for him. What kind of joy can he really have trying to "fit" into the worldy young generation. I appreciate your grace in what has gone on and I just want you to know that my family will pray for you and whatever decision you make. I know that you will bless God with whatever happens.
In His Grip,
Elizabeth

brad reynolds said...

Tom
May the Lord Bless you as you spend your time sharing the gospel of Christ with lost souls. Thank you for your desire in keeping this Blog above reproach by removing some of the unwholesome comments. In that spirit, may I suggest, that you not publish a post, which invites unwholesome Christian language and ill will among brethren.

I also would like to thank you for recognizing the lack of wisdom in posting the first e-mail exchanges, readily admitting that you had not sinned enough to have to read them again (an obvious admition that the publishing of such, did not glorify Christ). This was most refreshing, as the arrogance of many Bloggers’ refusal to admit mistakes is saddening – I know God will honor your humility here.

Neither you nor the Caners need defending, however, I would like to share what I know of the Caners. First, both Caners embody the spirit of preferring to drive across the state to see someone saved rather than walk across the street for a debate. This is essential in comprehending why they may not treat this debate with the seriousness that some deem it demands. Second, the Caners feel that Calvinism taken to its logical conclusions diminish evangelism fervor, as do I. In their opinion anything that may diminish such fervor is worthy of unharnesed passionate warfare. Third, Ergun is an amalgam. Although he was born a Turkish Muslim and reared in the Islam religion he also hails from Brooklyn, NY and yet married a North Carolina country sweetheart. Sometimes when he speaks his Turkish/Muslim/Brooklyn vocabulary colors his Christian language. And what is offensive to some is not offensive to him. I remember hearing Dr. Homer Lindsay, Jr say “jack_ss” from the pulpit. I was astonished. However, it was part of his language without any comprehension that he might be offending some (please know I am not in any shape, manner or form defending the anti-nomian belief that we are free to curse).

Perhaps these revelations will act as a yellow light to the assumptions and outright malicious attacks upon the Caners. Perhaps not.

I do not know Dr. O’Donnell; yet since he has a merited history of moderating debates, even between political adversaries, his objectivity and credentials speak for themselves. I would caution anyone from assuming that Dr. O’Donnell is capable of moderating Democratic liberals and Republican conservatives objectively, but incapable of moderating Christian brothers objectively. Such an assumption would reveal not only a heightened ignorance but also a blind bias.

Tom, I can certainly understand your feelings and frustrations. I have had similar ones when what was important to me was not as pressing or as important to others. And a lack of response or respect caused me to jump to conclusions, which were unwarranted.

The soteriological assumptions which your Blog is devoted to are beneficial for all to know (and few to affirm), but must be viewed in the greater scheme of God’s plan to redeem man. I will address the logical conclusions of the Reformed position in the near future on my Blog, but first I will be addressing the “state of the convention” followed by the truth about alcohol (where I will combat the erroneous hermeneutic and egregious understanding of Christian liberty that you defended at the SBC). I will be praying that God will use it in my life and all who read. Join me in praying that it will glorify Christ and that truth will prevail.

BR

John said...

Hi Leighton,

"Is believing ever said to be a work? If so, regardless of whether you are a Calvinist or not it could be said that we are saved by grace through a work. Do you believe that we are saved through a work?"

A "work" is, by definition, anything that comes originally from us. So faith, as you are trying to define it -- as originating from us, before regeneration -- is a "work". Therefore, it could not save; that is, what you have defined as "faith" is not what the Bible uses as saving faith.

Actually, there is grace mediated through "means" (but not through "works" that come from us). God gives us faith (as it says in Ephesians 2:9-10, faith is part of the package that "is a gift, not of ourselves"). Even repentance is "granted" by God. Saving grace is mediated through the "means" of gospel preaching and our faith (which originates from the life the Holy Spirit grants). Sanctifying grace is mediated through the means of baptism, the Lord's Supper, attending to the teaching and preaching of the Word, prayer, giving, etc. Grace comes to us through "means". This is what James means when he says "faith without works is dead." There is such a thing as "dead faith", merely cognitive, arising from us, and ironically itself a work that does not save.

Since "every inclination of our hearts is only evil all the time," all our "righteousness is filthy rags," our hearts are "desperately wicked", and we are "dead in our trespasses", we cannot, of ourselves produce saving faith. We would not even want to.

John said...

Dear Brad Reynolds,

Hi. You wrote: "Second, the Caners feel that Calvinism taken to its logical conclusions diminish evangelism fervor, as do I."

Do the names George Whitefield, John Eliot, Jonathan Edwards, William Carey, Isaac Backus, C. H. Spurgeon ring a bell?

Please discuss them on your blog!

brad reynolds said...

John

Of course those names ring a bell...but please re-read my comment "the Caners feel that Calvinism taken to its logical conclusions diminish evangelism fervor, as do I." These men did not take Calvinism to its logical conclusions.

BR

John said...

Dear Brad,

With all due respect: Yes they did. You just don't understand the "logical conclusion" of the Biblical faith. It is the "logical conclusion" of Arminianism that leads to universalism and thus no "evangelistic fervor." That's the verdict of history.

Tom said...

Brad:

Long time no see. Your comment reminds me of that famous statement by Winston Churchill about the relationship between England and the USA: I feel like you and I are two brothers separated by a common language.

If you seriously think that my comment about not having sinned sufficiently to warrant having to to read through the Caner's emails again is "an obvious admition that the publishing of such, did not glorify Christ" then you need a remedial course in hermeneutics! I must conclude that you are simply trying to be cute. It failed. I have all of the communication in my correspondence file. I don't have to be online to read them. Furthermore, you still have the same ethical problem of condemning the posting of then while choosing to read them yourself compounded by and abslutely baseless attempt to justify rendering an opinion on what you have read by claiming that "it wouldn't be right."

So, don't thank me for something that I did not do and something that no one who honestl reads what I have written would ever conclude tht I have done.

I am glad that you know the Caners to be men of such upstanding integrity. I have no judgment to make about that. Their own words, particluarly, Ergun's, suggest that there might be more to them than that. You know that, of course, though you refuse to admit it because "it wouldn't be right." But, that is OK--their words are available for all to see.

Brad, I really am saddened to see an employee of one of our Southern Baptist institutiions, whose salary is paid for by Cooperative Program funds, defending Ergun Caner's boasting that Jerry Falwell plans to "pimp" a debate to "little old ladies" and "around the world." But, given your past comments on this blog, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

I am delighted to hear that you finally have your own blog. I hope that you are able to use it to glorify God. Given your history here, you will understand if I don't get all excited about the prospect of your upcoming post combating my "erroneous hermeneutic and egregious understanding of Christian liberty." You have yet to convince me that you are willing to understand what I have written. How will you understand my hermeneutics?

fred said...

Leighton,

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Romans 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Romans 6: 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

Roman 8:21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

John 5:25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

My thoughts and what I believe the word of God says about the subject are fairly clear. No man WILL come, nor CAN come unless a work of God (regeneration) is done in advance of one receiving the gift of faith.

Scott said...

Brad,

I'm still amazed that you can be an employee of SEBTS and sign the Abstracts which you say you embrace or you would not have signed it. The reason I say this is because of your support for the Caners. I'm not talking about the email exchanges but the fact that you are not " Pro" Abstracts because if you were you would have come out long ago in your support of Drs. White and Ascol. I do not believe for one second that you can honestly believe that the Caners are closer to the Abstracts than Drs. White and Ascol. I'm willing to give you that however I think I know better.
Could you give me an estimate( Guess) of how many more professors would support the theology of the Caners over men( James and Tom) who actually embrace the Abstracts. Also, I believe your president is in the same camp as you are. As I have said before I find this troubling and flat out WRONG! You should be living out what you sign in your christian life. Example: Instead of hiding behind comments like " I just want the truth to come out at the debate". So do I but the Caners don't support the full Abstracts however Drs. White and Ascol do. Do you feel OK to accept a paycheck from the school which you openly go against in your actions. If I'm wrong about you please tell me. Who's theological position do you support Caners or White and Ascol ? You should have no problem being public about this.Members of the SBC( Bloggers) ought to know where you stand ? If you support the Caners theological position then you should resign. Really ! It makes no sense for you to sign something that you don't support.Please know that I'm not mad at you but please be fair to the students at SEBTS and prospective students that they can trust that their professors really believe the Abstracts .

peter lumpkins said...

Brother, Dave,

Thank you for your note. And I believe both of us have been edified through our brief but sober conversation. I hope, under our Lord, we all come, through each other's help, to better understand our God and His Scripture. I know you agree, Dave.

Nor do I take lightly your and others' hopelessness in understanding exactly what went wrong in the Caner correspondence. I sympathize completely, my brother.

As to what the Drs. Caner both defend and believe about historic Calvinism, I remain unsure at this time. Enough has been left unsaid to know for sure, at least from my vantage point.

In addition, far too much emotionally-charged rhetoric unfortuantely has so vividly colored what has been said--leaving me with such inward frustration--that I cannot make heads nor tails out of the intellectual exchanges thus far. And frankly, I have never read a word either Caner has written apart from the infamous emails.

I trust you have a pleasant and good night's rest. With that, I am...

Peter

fred said...

Brad, Sorry I am not sure if you are a Dr., or I would address you as such.

While I was at the convention, I heard the same empty argument that, and I will quote from you, (Insert name) "embody the spirit of preferring to drive across the state to see someone saved rather than walk across the street for a debate."

I suspect that you are implying the opposite is true of anyone who takes the Doctrines of Grace to their logical conclusions. Well sir, I do take them to their logical conclusions just as George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, William Carey, and C. H. Spurgeon did.

It's funny, that you hold the view you do. Many in my own church have the same views. Yes they believe in the freedom of man, and because they do they're never at a prayer meeting, a servant evangelism project, visitation, nursing home ministry, or anything else that would bring them into contact with a lost and dying world. I guess their thinking is that they do not want to interfere with the freedom of man to make HIS choice of God.

Maybe you can enlighten me, as to what you see are the "logical conclusions" of believing that God is sovereign in the salvation of sinners?

brad reynolds said...

Tom,
Forgive me for making an assumption about your apparent humility and thank you for correcting me on that.

The ethical problem you assume I have is the same ethical problem a general would have if he read a New York Times article with sensitive military information and then condemned the publishing of the article but refused to address the data contained therein (I think we’ve ridden this horse enough).

Tom, I assume you are a good shepherd and a man who loves God and loves pleasing Him, but one who obviously errs. And I sincerely appreciate some of your work. But I admire the Caners for corresponding at all at this point. Honestly, I would have ceased all correspondence had you published e-mails between us that I asked you not to publish.

Concerning the Caners, they are men of upstanding integrity, but they are men, capable of erring and even saying things they might regret, as am I. However, if we are to cast stones, please throw them this direction, as I am chief of sinners. I have not come to their defense, but rather as I made Clear - I was trying to give objective readers insight to who these men are. I assure you, Dr. Falwell, knows Ergun and therefore probably took no offense at his statements (which, if anyone should be offended it should be Dr. Falwell).

I sincerely apologize if I have not understood what you have written. I take full responsibility for that error and readily admit my limitations. I try to read comments objectively but admit I am errant at times. Your rebuke is well received and I will certainly try harder in the future and will ask the Father to help me in that regard.

BR

PS - Please don’t be offended but I did not begin my Blog to get you excited.

brad reynolds said...

Scott

Dr. Akin has addressed your concerns about the Abstracts. Perhaps you can enlighten him on his erroneous hermeneutics of the Abstracts. Please feel free to e-mail him.

And I am never ashamed to admit publicly and before all, including churches I may pastor my soteriological position. To not do so, is unethical. I affirm 3 of the classic points of Calvinism provided I can define them, rather than their being dependent on the entire system's presuppositions.
BR

Benji Ramsaur said...

Brad,

You stated:

"First, both Caners embody the spirit of preferring to drive across the state to see someone saved rather than walk across the street for a debate. This is essential in comprehending why they may not treat this debate with the seriousness that some deem it demands."

Then you eventually said:

"Tom, I can certainly understand your feelings and frustrations. I have had similar ones when what was important to me was not as pressing or as important to others."

Now, I don't know why you would have given your personal experience here if you did not think it related to Tom Ascol. And the only other place where you talked about something being more important to some than to others was the "evangelism/debate" comment. Therefore, you seem to be saying that Tom Ascol does not have the same perspective on debate and evanglism as the Caners do. In other words, you seem to be saying that debate is not as important to the Caners as it is to Tom Ascol when compared to evangelism. Now, if what you seem to be saying to me is the reality of what you are saying, then I ask you this question: How do you know this? If this is not what you are saying, then what is it that you think Tom Ascol takes more seriously than the Caners?

Also, it seems that Ergun Caner does take this debate at least somewhat seriously by his own comments. He states:

I do "love" the fact that Dr. Falwell is willing to give this debate as "big a stage as possible".
He believes, as we do, that this is a "vital issue" in the SBC, and "MUST be confronted" to as "large a crowd as possible". (all the quotations are mine)

brad reynolds said...

Fred
Thank you for your spirit and you can call me Brad...I do have a doctorate but we are brothers.

I did not in any way, shape, or form mean to imply that those who differed with me on the doctrines of grace would not rather drive across the state to see a soul saved than walk across the street for a debate. I do not believe that...some of my good friends hold to all five points of Calvinism.

And I am saddened at the sin of church members who refuse to witness. IT IS SIN.

I do believe God is Sovereign over the salvation of souls but I believe that God's Sovereignty is so Great it includes man's freedom to choose. In a very real way the supra-logic and omnipotent Sovereignty of God's Plan is far more evident in my position than in my reformed brothers.

Please give me the freedom and latitude to save this discussion about Calvinism for my Blog, since, on this Calvinists Blog I would be responding until Jesus returns and explains it authoritatively to the Calvinists :)
BR

peter lumpkins said...

Dear greg b

Greetings, my brother. Thank you ever so much for pointing out the Wikipedia source (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyper-calvinism) in considering hyper vs. non-hyper Calvinism. I too checked that source before I wrote my little posts about the possibility of distinguishing between HyperCalvinism in the classic, historic sense and hypercalvinism in a softer, less technical sense so that I would not be blowing needless smoke around. I'm glad I did.

Nevertheless, I am a little confused, Brother greg b, exactly why you only mentioned the technical, historic sense the Wikipedia article rightly mentioned at the article's beginning but entirely left out of your scope--and to your readers' disadvantage--what Wikipedia calls the "non-technical usage of the term [hypercalvinism]."

Let me refresh your memory, greg b, as to what it said. If you read the fifth nuance of the non-technical usage of hypercalvinism, you will see that some use hypercalvinism to state to someone that it is "that it is wrong to proselytize"

And, if you scan a bit further, a second non-technical usage some employ toward hypercalvinists is to suggest that to hypercalvinists, "only Calvinists are Christians."

Gee, greg b. These two nuances of hypercalvinism people employ sound strangely similar to precisely what I was getting at in my post.

I sure am glad we caught it, greg b. Thank you. Have a grace-filled sleep. With that, I am...

Peter

Tom said...

Brad:

You are forgiven for assuming that I am humble.

No amount of misapplied analogies can hide the huge inconsistency of your ethics. You are profess to be against something that you willingly imbibe and then refuse to discuss it as a matter of ethics. It really is a dilemma.

Your attempts to rewrite history have also not improved during your few week absence. You state: " Honestly, I would have ceased all correspondence had you published e-mails between us that I asked you not to publish." The Caners never asked--Ergun Caner *demanded* that his emails not be published, but only *after* stating that if they were published they be published in their entirety. Why do you continue to misrepresent this, if you are indeed interested in the truth? It only hurts your credibility with those who have read the email exchange and know better.

I do not know Dr. Falwell very well but I will take your word for it if you say that he is not offended at being accused of "pimping" a show to little old ladies.

I really am glad you started your own blog and take no offense whatsoever that you did not do so for my sake. I am hoping that it will give you an outlet to express your opinions more appropriately than what you sometimes have done on the blogs of others.

I meant it when I said that I hope you will be able to use it to glorify God.

Tom said...

Brad:

Pardon me for jumping in on your conversation with Scott, but I was alarmed by this statement:

"I affirm 3 of the classic points of Calvinism provided I can define them, ...."

Now, I am quite sure you are no liberal, but this is *precisely* the way liberal professors at Southern and Southeastern rationalized their signing of the Abstract of Principles in the 1980s. Authorial intent was completely rejected. The real question--the question that every honest signer of that document should be able to answer in the affirmative--is this: Do I believe the article of this statement in the same way that James P. Boyce and Basil Manly, Jr. did?

The hermeneutic that you have articulated ultimately allows for any kind of belief.

I can run 100 yards in 5.7 seconds, if you allow me to define what a yard is.

brad reynolds said...

Tom

Wow - Speaking of misrepresentation thanks for your model comments. I will not address what you said of me - I try not to defend myself, although I do fail at times.

Concerning Dr. Falwell, I said - since he knows Ergun he would probably not be offended by those comments. But you are probably correct in assuming he would not be offended at the comments themselves (no matter who said them).

What I know of Dr. Falwell, is that he has pretty-thick skin and is not offended much at all by what people say about him, especially his friends.

BR

brad reynolds said...

Tom
As you know Calvinism is a system...to take 3 points away from the other points does not do the system justice, especially with the presuppositions on which the system is based.

Allow me to reference you, also, to Dr. Akin's understanding of the Abstracts, which I affirm. Please feel free, to lecture him on hermeneutics. I am quite certain one of you will be enlightened:)
BR

bristopoly said...

Hi Leighton,
If I can just jump in for a minute and ask you some questions... I don't think the T is as explicit as the U, I and P which needs it as a support, so if these are taught by Scripture, then the T must logically be true as well. So let me pursue it this way. If the U, I and P are true, then the T must be true as well. Otherwise, there would be no need for the U, I and the P would not logically follow.

A.
John 6 states that only those who are drawn by God can come to Christ and that all of those who are drawn come and will be saved.

If the gospel itself is the drawing (rather than the means of drawing those upon whom the Spirit has placed his grace with which we would all agree), then why would not all men who hear it be saved? So:
1. The drawing in John 6 is effectual for all and not offered to everyone who hears the gospel.
2. If the gospel is the drawing, then either we must conclude that everyone who hears it will come to Christ according to this text and be saved, or they will not hear it.
3. The problem is that Christ is speaking to a bunch of people who have just heard the gospel numerous times and is explaining the reason why they have not come to him.

So the Gospel itself cannot be the drawing.

B. Eph 2:8-9 does not say that we are saved by grace mixed with faith. It does not even say we are saved by grace and by faith. It says that we are saved BY GRACE. That grace takes its work through faith so that we are saved, but the passage is clear (I'm not sure if you are familiar with Greek) that the "gift" is the grace, the faith and the salvation in the context. So faith is not something that stems from ourselves here, but something that is given. As the Epistle to the Hebrews states, Christ is the "Author (i.e., the one who produces) and perfector (one who completes) our faith." So it is not something we exercise from ourselves even a little bit.


You are right that hardening concerns something that happens later, not from birth. But the hardening in Scripture is something that is done so that one does not believe the Gospel in order to be saved. The verse, "I will have mercy upon whom I have mercy and I will harden whom I harden" has to do with whether God has chosen from the foundation of the world to forgive and bring someone to Himself--mercy has to do with one who is under judgment-- (and therefore they will believe the Gospel) or He has chosen to harden (so that they do not believe the Gospel--John 12:39-41). But the point is that there is a work going on both ways. One is to harden (or turn the rebellion of a person into concrete) and the other is to have mercy (drawing them through the Gospel and giving them faith to be saved). The hardening is simply solidifying the way a person is already going (and we are told by Rom 1-3 that we are all going that way). So it does not cause someone to rebel, but simply puts grease on the slide that they are on. The "otherwise" in the passage, I believe if you look at all of the passages which cite this verse, is talking about God's decision to either have mercy or harden. Because they are hardened they do not believe. Otherwise, if He would have had mercy upon them, their eyes would be opened and they would.

So the real question becomes, "Why is it necessary for the Father to draw people if the gospel itself will draw them? The hardening is simply a judgment given out concerning a rebellion that would persist at some level by itself anyway. But we are never told the opposite. We are never told that the drawing is not necessary. John quoted you 1 John correctly (I just read this with my students in Greek class tonight). It is a perfect, which has a more stative aspect to it. Our faith is a result of our having been born of God. The Lord states to Nicodemus that a man cannot even see the Kingdom of Heaven unless he is born again. Peter states that God is to be praised because He "according to His great mercy [not according to our faith]has "caused us to be born again to a living hope..."
So logically it seems that if one needs to be born again/drawn in order to believe the Gospel, then it must be that man cannot do so otherwise. Once again, if the drawing were merely the Gospel coming into contact with a human who has the possibility of believing within himself, and John 6 states that the drawing is always successful, why are not all men who hear the Gospel saved?
The Gospel cannot clearly be the drawing itself and therefore this must be a drawing through, not a drawing by, the Gospel. If God must draw everyone to Himself in order for someone to come to Him, then this must be because man is not capable of coming on His own (indeed, Christ says "no man is able to come to me"). We then seek in Scripture what the reason might be that man cannot come to Him. We see in Scripture that it is the love of darkness rather than light (John 3) and this love of falsehood and evil is further developed throughout the Scripture.

I know that much of this is probably confusing rambling, but I hope it helps somewhat. I am someone who actually asked this question a lot in my undergrad and even later because I did not see a lot of explicit verses about TD, but came to the conclusion of the T because the U, I, and P are all over the place and must assume the T. I therefore could go back to Eph 2 and say that "dead in sin" must mean more than mere separation which does not have complete dominion over my decisions and instead interpret it to be total. I then saw a lot more than I had noticed before that really assumes the T and even explicitly teaches it (hostile toward God, love of darkness, enemies of God, the teaching of Rom 1-2 that teaches that the truth given to man will only cause him to rebel all the more because the problem is not the amount of truth he has (i.e., not knowing the gospel), but his rebellious nature, etc. Oh well, I'm ranting again. Let me know if I can clarify anything. Take care.

bristopoly said...

Tom, you are a brilliant man. Your responses are always filled with the perfect amount of wit, wisdom, grace and bluntness. God bless you, Sir.

ajlin said...

The Abstract of Principles is a 4-point document. As the statement on regeneration reads: "Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God's free and special grace alone."
This language is exactly that which has been consistently used throughout history to describe the effectual work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who are alienated and hostile toward God- that work which is commonly referred to as irresistible grace.

Mopheos said...

Hello Tom,

I'm sure you do not need to be reminded of this, but Dr. Caner's "pimp-my-debate" comment is thoroughly consistent with TRBC's modus operandi when it comes to merchandising. Depending on how things actually transpire (or are edited), you can be absolutely certain that the opportunity to exploit the debate for a variety of TRBC ministry ends will in no wise be missed. If my recollection is correct, this is at least one of the reasons that John MacArthur spoke at LU/TRBC one time, and one time only - the inability of the ministry to pass up marketing his appearance there.

TRBC is set to move into its one million or so square foot megaplex on Liberty mountain next week. The pressures inherent sustaining such a ministry must be enormous. The gifts of many, many little old ladies (and lots of others) help make it all possible, and now that TRBC/LU is in the SBC camp, many pragmatic currents converge to make this debate (and the crushing of so-called "hyper-calvinism") pretty important to them. They simply cannot be seen countenancing anything remotely connected to reformed/calvinistic practice or theology, as the consequences would be disastrous for their donor base. These pressures exert great power on the motivations of men and whereas they are not the only influence holding sway in the deportment of the Liberty men, they surely figure quite prominently.

Looking back at the Pulpit Classics which are aired on the Liberty channel, Dr. Falwell used to be much more hermeneutically oriented in his sermons, but that has pretty much ceased these days. One gets the distinct impression that building the empire on Liberty mountain has become the hermeneutical lens through which the sermons must now pass, and the over-riding concern in much that is said from the pulpit. These things and much more will be roosting in the rafters of the debate hall come October. And I might add, I am not an enemy of LU, TRBC or Dr. Falwell - I am indebted to him and many at LU for some very formative years as a new believer in the late 70's and early 80's. Our fellowship in Lynchburg has been the happy beneficiary of some fine students who have come to Lynchburg to attend LU and have worshipped and served with us. I pray for the ministry there, and tremble to think of the responsibility it bears, if for no other reason than its sheer size. It is therefore genuinely grievous to see the postures struck by them against you all, and against such a wide swath of the church's history over the millennia, and indeed - against certain portions of Scripture itself!

So I hope and pray you all will press on in the debate, and that the contrasts evident in disposition, argument, love of the words of Scripture as evidenced in sound exegesis, church history and the fear of the Lord will be clear and irresistible. May the mouths of the obstreperous by stopped and God be true. Grace to you,

Timotheos

Timmy said...

I know and understand that any friend of the Caners would want to step in and speak in an apologetic fashion to their defense. As I read Brad's rationalization of Dr. Caner's actions, I was asking myself, "Why?"

I suppose that it is commendable for Brad to stick with Ergun in light of the deplorable situation which has taken place, but Ergun's actions is simply indefensible. I'm Iranian. Does that give me the right to speak with anger?

Brad, the Scripture says that "faithful are the wounds of a friend but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." If you know Ergun the way you do, you have the privilege to speak with him in a way none of us ever could. Maybe you have. If I can, let me encourage you to honestly and objectively consider all that he has said and done and call him to Christ-like love, humility, and kindness. Nobody here would call Ergun an enemy. He is our brother, but we cannot call him a friend since we do not know him personally (at least I don't). Therefore, you have the opportunity before you with his listening ear to say what hundreds of comments from hundreds of his brothers in Christ could not do. Thanks for considering my suggestion.

Jeffro said...

Brad Reynolds said,

"Third, Ergun is an amalgam. Although he was born a Turkish Muslim and reared in the Islam religion he also hails from Brooklyn, NY and yet married a North Carolina country sweetheart. Sometimes when he speaks his Turkish/Muslim/Brooklyn vocabulary colors his Christian language. And what is offensive to some is not offensive to him."

Your post on "egregious" liberty should be rather interesting, especially if this is your ethic concerning language. Your disclaimer (about antinomianism) cannot distill the meaning of "what is offensive to some is not offensive to him" (unless, of course, there is an "erroneus hermeneutic" here). Maybe, our dear brother, you should begin your blog with a post on the "truth" about cursing (and offensive language), making sure to address all of the cultural idioms that can be produced by a colorful background. I am sure this would be very helpful for all of the convention. Think of the range of effectiveness. From the likes of Dr. Lindsey Jr (now deceased, I know) to the distinguished Dr. Caner to we Calvinists here on the Founders Blog.

Aaron L. Turner said...

Dr. Reynolds:

What logical conclusions of Calvinism diminish the fervor of evangelism?

What are the conclusions to which Tom has jumped?

Why is it that you seem to want to afford the Caners every benefit of the doubt even to the point of defending his use of course language, but say, "In that spirit, may I suggest, that you not publish a post, which invites unwholesome Christian language and ill will among brethren."

Why don't you make that same suggestion to your friend Ergun?

Why don't you suggest that he stop using that kind of language?

Greg B said...

Dear Peter:
Forgive me for not being clearer about my intention. My point was this is the historical/theological definition that .... educated people should use, or explain clearly the difference between there usage and this standard.
Just as I pointed out in a past discussion on church discipline and numbers reporting, I learned that words meant things not from an outspoken Calvinist but Russ Bush and Paige Patterson. They were very careful to tell us that it was largely the misuse of terms that allowed (in an earthly and sociological sense) theological liberalism into the seminaries and then churches. Prof would use common "evangelical" terms with long established meanings to mean something different. They did not clearly explain what they meant until they had innoculated you with the new context (does that make sense). In other words the meaning changed for many people with out most knowing it.
In this case, ...well Dr. Caner maybe at times using one of the alternate definitions... ie pushing Calvinism or being kind of gnostic about the 5 Points, but his concern about evangelism means that he is clearly using it in the wikipedia proper definition most of the time.
He clearly should know better as he has both education and alot of access to godly men who are Calvinists.
As has been stated by several, Calvinism isn't a system as such. Many here I would bet are still largely dispensationalists, some are covenantalists, many would simply say I go only where the Bible takes me and study theologians only after the Holy Spirit brings an idea to my mind through my scriptural study.
Sorry for my lack of clarity.
Do you ever get tired of how folks appreciate your spirit and humility? If so I would be glad to rail for a moment:):):)
Grace Alone,
Greg B

Benji Ramsaur said...

Brad,

You might have missed my earlier comment. I had some questions I asked you. However, you might have been addressing me too when you were addressing Fred. If so, then please answer the last question I asked in my earlier comment.

Samuel J Bell III said...

Hello Brothers,
I am amazed to see so many comments on this subject exspecialy from people who want to defend Dr. Caners behavoir. His behavior is inexcusable on so many levels. I find it apaling to find A Christian man Defending this behavior when we would not alow it in our own children. Remember We are Gods Children and we are constantly under his tutalage. So no amount of explaing away or exuses make up for the unchristian behavoir of Dr. Caner. Call A spade A Spade Not A Club. Thank you agian Tom for standing for Turth without compromise unlike most of our pastors today.
In Him who is the only one who sets us free,
Sam

John said...

Dear Brad,

Hi. I'm relatively new here so let me get this straight: You sign an "Abstract of Principles" that you really don't believe (or you redefine them according to your own system so you can sign them)?

You: "I affirm 3 of the classic points of Calvinism provided I can define them. . . ." I can affirm the Qu'ran provided I can define it!

And you think that you understand the logical out-come of Biblical theology (i.e. "Calvinism") better than those like Edwards who wrote complex theological works on it?

And you claim that Biblical theology (i.e. "Calvinism") is a system, apparently imposed on scripture, while you impose Victorian era prohibitionism on the followers of a Lord who began His ministry by turning water into "wine" and used "wine" in one of His two ordinances.

May I assume that one of the "5 points" you don't affirm is "preservation of the saints" (i.e. eternal security). After all, you insisted on "free will." What sense would it make to say sinners only have free will right up until they are saved then they don't have free will any more, they can't freely choose to fall away?

Ok, maybe I'm being a little rough.

Christopher Redman said...

It is apparent to me that Dr. Reynolds and those like him are obsessed with "the logical" conclusion of calvinism. We counter with "the logical" conclusion of Arminianism.

May I state, "Who gives a flip about the logical conclusion of anything pertaining to the Word of God?!"

There is nothing inherently logical about the absolute sovereignty of God and man's full responsibility. BUT IT IS TRUE NONE THE LESS!

Secondly, logic is the premise that formed the doctrine of free will in the mind of Pelagius. He rationalized that what God commands men to do must be attainable by man or God is unjust.

The reality is that God commands all men everywhere to be perfect and holy as He is holy. However, no one is capable of being perfect and holy. Only one in the history of the human race has done so and He was the Son of God, Jesus Christ! Nevertheless, God is Just.

So, logical or illogical means nothing. What matters is what the Bible says.

The fault and error of Pelagius has been repeated through the centuries by Arminius, Wesly, Finney, Moody, and.... Apparently, Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Caner. (And many, many, many, many, many others including some of us Calvinists. See my previous post on R.C. Sproul Jr.) The error is insisting that logic be applied to scripture.

Dr. Reynolds can back step, back flip, back peddle, back hand, back talk, or anything else backwards that he wants. There is no way that he can justify a statement like...

I am a three pointer as long as I can define their points.

Tom nailed it when he pointed out the obvious, "authorial intent". This is not only applicable to the Abstracts but to exegeting scripture as well.

Therefore, Dr. Reynolds, may I assume that you are rejecting the 4th point of Calvinism which is effectual calling? How can you justify this in light of the extremely clear and evident biblical witness to the contrary as well as the Abstract's statement on Regeneration preceeding faith and repentance?

Sir, you are not acting with integrity in handling your position and responsibility to uphold the Abstract of Principles at your institution.

CR

brad reynolds said...

Benji,
I apologize…I did miss your comment. I did not mean to imply that Tom would rather go to a Calvinist debate than witness – I do not know him. I was saying it seems to me that the constant Blogging about the debate implies a greater concern than the Caners, although this does not mean the Caners are not concerned at all. Thank you very much for the spirit in which you write.

Ajlin
If Basil Manly, Jr. had wished to say, “the Holy Spirit’s salvific work in a person’s life is irresistible” – those words or similar ones were available for his use.

Timmy
Your words are wrought with wisdom. Thank You.

Aaron
I will address those conclusions soon on my Blog, after I deal with the state of the convention and the anti-nomian tendency to imbibe in alcohol.

I have made it clear that both Caners are capable of erring and certainly do. Further, I would never defend their erring but have simply stated part of what I know of them. Moreover, I have asked that if stones be cast, they come this direction.

Any unwholesome language is not pleasing to Christ. But what amazed me was the duplicity of attacking Ergun with implications of unwholesome speech and then maintaining a Blog, which is consumed with unloving and unChrist-like comments. Two regular readers/participants of this Blog have contacted me and shared that the vitriolic spirit contained here was not present before the Caners showed up on this Blog. Yet, the fault of the degeneration of the comments on this Blog into a Jerry Springer episode and a tabloid of the Caners e-mail lies not with them, but must rest at the feet of the Blogs’ owner.

To date NOONE has shown where the publishing of the first or current post on the Caner debate glorifies Christ, honors his command to love one another, exhibits true rather than pseudo forgiveness or exemplifies to the world how Christians are to treat each other. There was a reason Christ told his followers not to take private disagreements to public courts.

Were Tom to humbly admit that it is possible that he was wrong to post these (which invited language that questioned Ergun’s salvation) it would be refreshing. Were he too admit it was unwise in the first place and remove them it would be spiritually intoxicating. And yet, I fear a continual defense will be mounted.
BR

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

Good morning, my brother. My, the bees have been busy overnight on the Founders Blog! Let’s see, I think I have some dangling ends from another thread I thought had grown tiresome for most all there, Dr. Ascol.

Indeed you appear to be the only one to bemoan my departure. Thank you. It’s always nice to be missed :D

Evidently, the phrase “The Doctrine of Church Rolls” poked you in your theological eye, Dr. Ascol. I am amazed it stuck so well. If we keep using it, we may find it sticking for good—in an entirely comical way of course.

At any rate, I really meant to abide by Solomon’s wisdom and cease my posts. It really gets under my skin when one meets a guy who simply has to have the last word; does it not you, Dr. Ascol? Besides, in my view, there are other rocks on this Blog we may lift and take a peek.

I, will, however, grant you this one last comment on The Doctrine of Church Rolls before moving on: if you desire to engage this any further, by all means please do so, but do so with men eminently more qualified than I, Dr Ascol.

Remember, my brother, I conceded my weakness at this juncture, but think it curious you insist on a leap in logic from the rolls of Widows to the rolls of the Church. And if you do not see your hop in reason, Dr. Ascol, then there’s no good use, at least for me, to risk growing ears by continuing to harp about hopping.

I have an idea, Dr. Ascol. Tease The Doctrine of Church Rolls out by adding to your three a few more esoteric allusions from the NT. In addition, offer some archeological evidences of some petrified church rolls that have been recently found.

Then, I suggest you send your well researched essay of this strange new dogma to a scholarly theological journal, say the one at SBTS or SEBTS. I am sure both Drs. Mohler and Akin would consider publishing it. If they do not publish it, maybe the good Drs. will speak further with you about it. That is a win/win to me.

At the risk of appearing to go silent again, let me proceed quickly for I do have a few comments toward to your last post to me, Dr. Ascol. The first comment is brief…Very brief. You disagreed with my observation that you convoluted a moral absolute with a loaded theological term. The disagreement is so recorded.

Now, let’s move along to two questions that seem to have burned images on my monitor screen: “Peter, what would you say of a Christian leader who called you a Pelagian, even after you had expressed your disavowal of Pelagianism in the clearest possible language? If he continued to call you that, and refer to you as that to others, what would you think of him?”

Aside from the fact that I fear no danger in being called even half of that because of my theological commitments, I guess I could ask if he/she could give me the differences they see between a Pelagian on one hand and a Pelican on the other.

That sounds cute I realize. But it summarizes my general attitude toward what folks—including the scholarly community—may say of me.

I learned long ago, Dr. Ascol, I have absolutely no control over either what other people think of me nor, to a large extent, what other people say about me. I am who I am and that is all I am. And to be, not cute but trite, people can think and say all they want what I am but our Sovereign knows who I am.

I think the second question was your concern whether or not I would defend the Caners use of hyper vs. non-hyper pertaining to Calvinism. Here is my short answer which I know you always appreciate :D: No. I would not defend the Caners anymore than I would defend a rapid dog. They do not need defending. They need to quit slobbering and biting and engage the issues.

Alas, but you know how I feel about that, do you not? Surely you’ve read my comments about it, if for no other reason than to be surfing to see if I dealt with Church Rolls elsewhere :D For the life of me, I cannot see how our Lord can be glorified through an emotional fireworks’ display--all in truth’s name, of course.

One final comment before going silent (just kidding). John—Honest To God—A. T. Robinson quipped in the preface to his book, Redating the New Testament, that the thesis he was undertaking about considering early dates for every NT book was little more than a theological joke…a humorous prank played on his Liberal colleagues. Interestingly, when Robinson finished, he came to conclusions that rocked not only his world of scholarship, but had the most ardent conservatives arguing for a later date than he proposed!

I’ve always found humor in that. Similarly, I find humor in my proposal on this Blog that HyperCalvinism (with a capital H) that is used as a technical term for theological deviance from historic Calvinism can and ought to be distinguished from hypercalvinism (with a little h) that many use—perhaps even the masses employ—to describe not belief per se but attitude or practice. As in, for example, “stop trying to convert me to your belief system, you hypercalvinist, you.” Or “you hypercalvinists think that Calvinism is to be equated with Biblical Christianity.”


I find it fascinating that the distinction between “Hyper” and “hyper” which I conceded in my post would not amount to a hill of tators has nicely blossomed into a mountain of peaches.

In addition, I think the distinction stands. If it does, we should take particular pause and not hastily accuse our Brothers across the aisle of bearing false witness as they utter the horrible sounding term Hyper/hyperCalvinist. Does it have an “h” or an “H” in front of it should very much concern us.


Let me close now with this, Dr. Ascol: I can only imagine how happy the average Arminian who possesses in his pouch the smoothest stones to slay his Goliath by insisting, as does the average Calvinist, that he frame all questions, define all terms and decide all assumptions before the battle begins. How happy indeed.

I trust your day to be a grace-filled, God blessed, day my brother. May His peace be with you. With that, I am…

Peter

Leighton Flowers said...

Hi John, My comments are in bold...

You wrote: As addressed in the "Regeneration" thread, 1John 5:1 is often mistranslated, including in the KJV and NIV. The past perfect tense (for "born") is not captured by most translations. It says something like, 'Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.' The regeneration is first, then the faith.

I understand that translation but you have to admit that one verse seems pretty weak in light of the many other verses which indicate we are brought to life through faith. 1 John 5:1 still seems it could go either way to me. Almost like if someone were to say, "Everyone who works at that church has been ordained." Which comes first? Were they ordained prior to coming to work at the church or did they get ordained at the time when they joined the church as an employee? We can't really tell just from this one statement. The passages I listed seem pretty clear that life comes through faith. Sorry, I'm just trying to approach this objectively. Believe me, I want to find support for this doctrine, but I have to be honest with the text.

The other two verses you mention point to faith being the "means" of salvation: "through faith". Yes, we are brought to life "through faith". The life would apparently be the whole "life" (not just the initial regeneration), concluding with glorification, that is offered (and given) to God's people.

With all due respect, but that is just doesn't hold water. It says we are BROUGHT TO LIFE, if that is not a reference to being regenerated, what is? I also came across this passage:

1Pe 1:23 -
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

This verse appears to support the concept that we are born again through the word of God which is preached to us. This along with the many other passages that speak of life coming through faith seem to be overwhelming, especially if 1 John 5:1 is all the support there is for regeneration preceding faith.


Through that faith (which is a gift, Eph. 2:9-10), they repent (which is a gift, 2Tim. 2:25), and cling to Christ. Nothing in their hands they bring, not even "the better angels of their nature."

I don't deny that faith and repentance are gifts from God. I don't believe Arminians (non-Calvinists) deny that either (at least from what I've read). They just claim that the gift must be received and that it can be resisted. The gift is given when God sends the invitation, but that doesn't mean the invitation must be received. What do you think?

The natural person could not possibly produce faith because "every inclination in his heart is only evil all the time."

Is there any scripture which draws this actual conclusion? You seem to assume that because men are born with selffish and sinful desires that those desires cannot be persuaded or drawn to repentance by the powerful word of truth. I am still looking for a passage that actually draws that conclusion.

Again thanks for the discussion.

Leighton Flowers said...

Hi again John, again my answers are in bold…

"Is believing ever said to be a work? If so, regardless of whether you are a Calvinist or not it could be said that we are saved by grace through a work. Do you believe that we are saved through a work?"

No. I don’t believe faith is ever seen as a “work” in the way Paul speaks of the works of the law. Paul has no problem crediting Abraham for his faith, why should we? I believe there is a distinct difference between one pursuing righteousness as if it could be earned by works of the law and one pursuing righteousness through faith in the One who has fulfilled the law. I think you have attempted to define faith as a work so as to undermine the idea that faith is man’s responsibility, but in doing so you undermine Calvinism because Calvinists still affirm the necessity of faith, whether produced by regeneration or not, it is still something men do. They believe. And if that is considered a “work” in you eyes, then you must admit that men are saved by grace through works. Even if you preface that by saying the work is produced by God irresistibly, it is still a “work.”

A "work" is, by definition, anything that comes originally from us.

By that definition, nothing could be called a work, could it? What do we have that we have not been given? Even men’s ability to obey the law or to produce good deeds as a believer is from God isn’t it? So, how do you separate works from faith if this is the only differential factor? Nothing comes from us, does it?

Since "every inclination of our hearts is only evil all the time," all our "righteousness is filthy rags," our hearts are "desperately wicked", and we are "dead in our trespasses", we cannot, of ourselves produce saving faith. We would not even want to.

I understand your logic, but I don’t find this supported in the text. Plus, I’m not really arguing that men can produce faith. Faith comes through hearing the powerful Holy Spirit wrought gospel, so in that sense it is originated through a work of the Spirit, not just in us on our own. Some resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51), but those who submit to his message will be saved. I suspect that Calvinists have overcomplicated it.

peter lumpkins said...

greg b

Thank you, my brother, for your clarity. And I think discussions such as we've experienced here while lively, are good for us all.

Further, your words are much to kind to me. Indeed, now I am in a dilemna: for if I say I am glad a positive spirit displays in my life, I risk losing it because of pride knocking at my door.

If I do not acknowledge it, I risk not only ignoring the one whom God has sent to me as an encourager, such as you, my brother, but worst still, I risk denying God His glory for choosing to work in me.

Woe to us as long as we remain in this fleshly body! Maranatha, Lord!

May our Lord bless you this day, greg b. With that, I am...

Peter

sparrowhawk said...

A whole debate focusing on Brad R. yet again notwithstanding, I'm glad he and Timotheos brought forth two main issues: 1) The Caners' Turkish muslim roots, and 2) Liberty/Thomas Road.

I risk the prejudice of Nathaniel, but outside the reasoned voices from LU/TRBC on this board, has anything good ever come out of Lynchburg?

Only when you remember that the Caners are former Sunni muslims do you understand their fundamentalist zeal. It is in their blood, this instinct toward "ACTION", whether it be verbal, sarcastic warfare in words as we've clearly seen, or "electing because I selected" mindset of one's own salvation.

Their very actions, however, betray their beliefs, by the sheer absence of grace (in both an understanding of and practice of), and lack of true humility.

As for TRBC, seems they've become another city on a hill like the one in Plano, Texas. Pulpits uniting to fight the virus Calvinism while building empire. Something just doesn't jive, yet it may escape them totally.

Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...

Brother Tom-

I am sorry that this is the state it has come to. As I read Dr. Caner's emails, he is not a "theological pitbull" he is an arrogant theologian. God help us all to remain humble. I appreciate you and James for your stand with the Reformed Faith. I am a Reformed Baptist Pastor in Virginia. Below is an email that I sent to Ergun and challenged his thinking with no reply; this is the third time he has not replied nor answered my questions nor sent me his objections so that I may exegetically answer his. Enjoy:

Dr. Caner-



I have emailed you several times in the past, all to NO response from you. It has been a while since I have seen such a display of pride and arrogance in one person in my life. I believe that the attitude that you displayed with Drs. White and Ascol to be contrary to how Christ wants Christian brothers to behave towards one another. I do not feel, from your correspondence with James, that you or your brother really wants a debate on the real biblical issue. I heard your sermon at TRBC on “hyper-calvinism” and can say with the full authority of the Word of God behind me that you completely “butchered” Romans 9 and most of the claims that you made in that sermon.



I wrote on my web site www.faithdefense.blogspot.com concerning truth vs. tradition and stated that when you say that someone else’s position is wrong, you must be ready to give an answer exegetically, syntactically, and not with tradition. Saying, “This verse cannot mean what you say it means because this verse over here says this”, is NOT a definitive defense of your position neither is it a definitive refutation of the other position. That is all I see you do and all that I have heard you do. Why will you not answer the question, back up your claim without name calling and changing the subject? I believe it is because you really cannot answer. It is easy to preach a message against Calvinism to a group of Armenians, such as TRBC, and feel like you did a concise defense of your position. But there is not objection! Only when you can answer, exegetically, syntactically and without tradition, the objections can you say that you have really defended your position; all of those things you refuse to do.

Do me a favor; I hold multiple degrees in Theology, send me your objections, I would love to hear them. Dr., I appreciate your ministry to the Muslim community, I really do, but on this point you are just incorrect and I look forward to hearing your objections. Can you exegetically and syntactically give a defense for the belief that states that God tries but fails in saving most of the world. Matt. 7 says that more people will die and go to hell, so your presupposition says that God tries and fails. That is contrary to the teaching of Scripture. Jesus said, “I came to seek and SAVE the lost….” Definite task that he says will be completed. Thank you for your response.



Because of His Sovereign Grace,

Rev. Dr. Michael Huffman

Thank you Dr. Ascol and God Bless, I will let you know when and IF I here from Ergun.

Rev. Dr. Michael Huffman

Tom said...

Brad:

Once again I cannot help but wonder at how we can speak the same language and yet seemingly fail to communicate so regularly. In one sense I suppose it is commendable that you are jealous for my humility (even though I am someone whom you have never met) that you encourage me to "admit that it is possible that [I] was wrong to post these (which invited language that questioned Ergun’s salvation" or better yet, to "admit it was unwise in the first place and remove them."

I certainly am not above being wrong, but your appearance here defending Ergun Caner and claiming that you can affirm 3 of the points of Calvinism that the Abstract of Principles teach (and which you have presumably signed and promised to teach in accordance with and not contrary to) AS LONG AS YOU "ARE ALLOWED TO DEFINE THEM" hardly builds a compelling case for your point. If you think I have sinned in this blog post, please show me from God's Word.

Brad, go back and read the original post. I would not have posted my exchange with Ergun had he not *asked* (as you so fondly refer to it) me to do so. Why blame me for doing what he demanded here when you blame James White for not doing what he demanded with the previous correspondence. Once again, your ethical system seems to have some wires crossed at serious points. At the very least your inconsistency does not allow thinking people to take your calls here seriously.

If you really think that this post is like Jerry Springer, what in the world is your opinion of the post where the Caners showed up and spewed their venom back in February? (see the sidebar for the post on Johnny Hunt's nomination; read their comments there) You know the Caner brothers. Have you publicly admonished them as you have me? Are you more concerned for me, a stranger to you, than you are for your own friends? Such duplicity betrays concerns at work other than those which you publicly claim.

Brad, I plead with you to compare what you consider to be the most Springer-like comments here with the Caners' comments in their correspondence. If your crosswired ethics still will not allow you to comment on that in which you have imbibed, then refer to their published comments on this blog from February. If you are really concerned about the honor of Jesus Christ as you say you are then you will without hesitation condemn much of what they wrote and will call for them to repent. If you do not do this, then no amount of verbage to the contrary will convince us that it is *Christ's* honor that motivates you.

pastorleap said...

Dr. Reynolds, could you please respond to the following for my personal edification...

1. What are these "logical conclusions" that Calvinism leads to? I would like to know because I have believed all 5 points for over 10 years and have always been and remain evangelistically passionate. I leave tonight in fact for an out-of-country missions trip to do children's VBS AND EVANGELISTIC TRAINING (4 nights worth) among a very small group of indigenous Christians in an environment where Christianity is looked down upon. Please don't accuse me of "being inconsistent" or "not understanding the system." I may not have a doctorate (yet), but I have done the MDiv as well as bachelors in Bible and have studied the issue thoroughly. I know the 5 points. I believe them. There is nothing inconsistent about my universal proclamation that men should repent and believe on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. If anything, a consistent understanding of "the system" (not my term, but used by others) is what has motivated me to fervent missions and evangelism (per Acts 18:9-11). I would much rather believe in a definite atonement and believe that there are people who will always respond in Faith because of the pre-emptive working of the Spirit than to simply hope as I preach that because of some potential atonement someone (against their own sinful nature) may decide to respond.

2. Secondly, I am interested in hearing more about your own positions. You call yourself a "three pointer" and even though I think I know which three, could you elaborate? Also, I am genuinely interested in your response to the signing of the Abstract...and oh...before you say it...please stop referring us all to "ask Dr. Akin about his position." Dr. Akin is not here, or I am sure we would. You are, and you choose to continually come back and engage this audience, so be willing to defend your own positions and quit referring us to your boss. I personally think you refuse to do this because you know how inconsistent your positions on calvinistic theology and the Abstract are (kind of like your posting ethics). You cannot seriously argue, having read ANY of their material that Boyce, the Manlys, or Broadus were not historic Calvinists can you? Is there really any question that they held historic evangelistic Calvinism?

BTW and just for the record (to all). I have remained a happy go-lucky Calvinist for the past 10 years, pastoriing churches and getting along fine and co-laboring with SB men who did not hold my soteriology. It is only in the last year or so because of the provocations of so many "anti-calvinists" stirring the pot that I have had to become defensive with brethren. As I have surveyed the landscape, it is not that I find "hypercalvinists" (per Peter's secondary definition) who are angrily seeking to upset the balance of SB life. Most guys I know are content to pastor their churches and fellowship with other like-minded pastors. It is because of the intensifying assault by _____ (fill in the blank...I have at least 2 names in mind just from the above posts) and others that we are having these debates in such a spirit.

Leighton Flowers said...

Hi Fred, thank you for your response and for the scripture references. My responses are in bold....


John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

I’m not sure how this supports either side of the issue. We all affirm that one must be born again before seeing the kingdom, the question is whether we are brought to life through faith, or the other way around. The passages I have presented seem to suggest that we are brought to life through faith, because that is actually what the verse says.

Romans 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

This passage tells us that the natural man cannot subject himself to the law of God which I believe we all affirm, but does that mean we cannot believe in the one who fulfilled the law in our stead? As men acting in the flesh we cannot please God, but does that necessarily mean men can’t stop acting in the flesh and respond to God’s message of truth in faith? Think about it. If your son was living with his girlfriend and you said to him, “Son as long as you are living together you cannot please me,” would that imply that the son couldn’t repent of his living arrangements and move out? Of course not. It would only mean that while he continued to live in the flesh he could not please you.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

The problem I have with this verse is that Paul refers to the “deep things of God” in verse 10 and later in the next few verses Paul tells us that even the “brethren” in Corinth were carnal and unable to receive these things. I doubt that Paul is speaking about their being able to understand and receive the clearly revealed gospel message, otherwise why would he consider them “brethren?”

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

This doesn’t address the question. We all affirm our spiritual separation from God and the need to be made alive, but as the scripture shows it sure seems we are made alive through faith and not the other way around.

I don’t want this post to get too long so I’ll stop there for now. Thanks for your time.

revival now said...

Dr. Reynolds,

You wrote to Dr. Ascol, "As you know Calvinism is a system ... to take 3 points away from the other points does not do the system justice, especialy with the presuppositions on which the system is based."

Sir, with all due respect, would you please tell me what is the system and what are the presuppositions you are referring to? I'll admit my academic training is limited. My first encounter with Calvin/ Calvinism was not pretty. I was led to believe that it was a heresy which destroyed missions and evangelism. To this day I have never read (other than short quotes) any of Calvin's commentaries or other writings. As I said, I do not have a great deal of academic training. All I really have is a mere 25+ years of preaching and study of the Bible. I know, I know - not really that impressive. But I assure you - I didn't come to an understanding of God's holiness, man's inability, the sufficency of grace and the beauty of heaven by studing a system. I've heard others refer to this mystical system out there - but no one has ever nailed it down for me. Would you explain please? Also, please inform me of the presuppositions which led me to the precious truths of the gospel. Honestly, the only presupposition I held was that the Bible was the "sole authority for faith and practice." Is there something else I'm missing? I assure you that there have been systems that I have rejected (such as dispensationalism) because I found them to be unbiblical. Please help this uneducated man.

Something else I learned over the years. The Bible calls believers to higher standards of behavior and deportment than the world around us. We are not to conform to the world, but be transformed by the indwelling presence of Christ. Why should we tolerate un-Chrsitlike behavior or language simply because it is being expressed by a Brooklyn New Yorker with a Turkish heritage? I was an East Texas red-neck too, but God saved me. A former professor of mine always said, "Creed determines character; character determines conduct." The past few months have been very revealing to those of us who once had a great deal of respect for Dr. Caner.

Wes, Revival Now

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Reynolds,

Do you ever feel lonely? If so, evidently the simple cure is to come here where it appears your comments will gain much attention.

I have enjoyed swinging through the trees, falling off my wall and conceding my ever present weaknesses in Biblical hermeneutics.

My encouragement to you is to keep loving Jesus, be a good teacher, write a good blog, and accept the fact that this community is extremely verbose. You cannot keep up. Just accept it. Hear the Old Prophet: if you can't run with the horses, what will you do in the swelling of the Jordon?

Have a great day. By the way, what is the domain address for your blog?

With that, I am...

Peter

Leighton Flowers said...

Hi bristopoly, my comments are in bold…

If I can just jump in for a minute and ask you some questions... I don't think the T is as explicit as the U, I and P which needs it as a support, so if these are taught by Scripture, then the T must logically be true as well. So let me pursue it this way. If the U, I and P are true, then the T must be true as well. Otherwise, there would be no need for the U, I and the P would not logically follow.

I understand your reasoning but you can’t just ignore the scripture which seems to strongly indicated that we are brought to life through faith, can we? What do you do with those passages? Plus, after questioning the “T” it caused me to question the U, I and P as well. Even Sproul explains that it all rests on the T as the foundation for the rest.

A.
John 6 states that only those who are drawn by God can come to Christ and that all of those who are drawn come and will be saved….So the Gospel itself cannot be the drawing.

I do think John 6 is the strongest support for this dogma, but consider this:

Who is Jesus’ audience? Israel.
What is Israel’s current condition? They are being judicially hardened.

Let me expound. While Christ was on earth it is clear that he didn’t want all the Jews to come to faith. In Mark 4 Christ even explains that he hides “the secrets of the kingdom in parables” so they could not repent and be saved (something that would not be possible if they were born Totally depraved). In other words, Christ needed the Jews to remain blind and in their rebellion. He didn’t want his words and miracles to persuade them to faith. He instead wanted to provoke them to anger and he needed them to remain in unbelief. Why? They had to crucify Him. And he needed to ingraft the Gentiles into the church.

Now, Jesus also had another purpose. He had to reserve a remnant from Israel to fulfill their purpose in bringing redemptions message to the world. So, Christ was given 12 from Israel who he would train to be the foundation for his church (with the exception of the betrayer and later the addition of Paul). These were the ones who had been drawn to him and taught by him. Later, after Christ was raised up he would send these messengers into the world in order to draw all men to himself. As John 12:32 says, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." So, Christ went from only drawing a remnant to be his ordain apostles to sending them into the world to draw all mankind. Make sense?


B. Eph 2:8-9 does not say that we are saved by grace mixed with faith… So faith is not something that stems from ourselves here, but something that is given.

As I explained to someone else earlier, I affirm that faith is a gift in that faith comes from hearing God’s message, but that doesn’t necessarily mean its irresistibly bestowed. A gift can be refused or resisted. An invitation can be ignored.

You are right that hardening concerns something that happens later, not from birth. But the hardening in Scripture is something that is done so that one does not believe the Gospel in order to be saved.

Exactly my point. If hardening is that which causes men to be unable to believe the gospel and it only takes place later in life then those who have not yet grown hardened should be able to believe the gospel, thus disproving the concept of Total Depravity. Understand?


The verse, "I will have mercy upon whom I have mercy and I will harden whom I harden" has to do with whether God has chosen from the foundation of the world to forgive and bring someone to Himself--mercy has to do with one who is under judgment-- (and therefore they will believe the Gospel) or He has chosen to harden (so that they do not believe the Gospel--John 12:39-41).

Ok, if those God has chosen to harden are the ones he has not chosen to show mercy then please explain to me why Paul clearly tells us in Romans 11:11-14 that those Jews who are hardened might be provoked to envy and come to faith? Why does Paul go on to say that they might leave their unbelief and be grafted back into the vine if in his mind he believes them to be the reprobate of Calvinism? Why does he say that their hardening is temporary and then go on to explain that even by hardening them he is showing them mercy? “For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.” (vs. 32) It just doesn’t appear to me that God is hardening these people for the purpose of certainly condemning them to hell, but instead he is hardening them to accomplish redemption for the world and then to provoke them to envy (which will provoke their will) so “they might be saved.” (Rm. 11:14)


The hardening is simply solidifying the way a person is already going (and we are told by Rom 1-3 that we are all going that way). So it does not cause someone to rebel, but simply puts grease on the slide that they are on.

But this position would only affirm that at some point in the persons life before they grew calloused they would have been able to see, hear, understand and repent, which would negate Total Depravity, wouldn’t it?

The "otherwise" in the passage, I believe if you look at all of the passages which cite this verse, is talking about God's decision to either have mercy or harden. Because they are hardened they do not believe. Otherwise, if He would have had mercy upon them, their eyes would be opened and they would.

The verse actually says “might” and not that they “would” inferring that there is nothing irresistible involved.

So the real question becomes, "Why is it necessary for the Father to draw people if the gospel itself will draw them?

God uses means, right? The father’s means is through the church proclaiming his word, right? You seem to assume that the gospel is not the work of the father in this question.


Take care.

You too. Thanks for your time. You make some good points and I’m still praying through all this. I’m just must have everything clearly shown to me through scripture and I’m not seeing the whole regeneration preceding faith thing being supported in the text. In fact, the verses I have presented seem to be much stronger in opposition to that belief.

Leighton Flowers said...

Question for anyone:

Are there any “Calvinistic” scholars who believe regeneration actually comes through faith but that there is some OTHER irresistible calling prior to regeneration that brings them to faith? It would look like this:

Irresistible call > Faith > Regeneration > etc...

Is this not a viable position? Why or why not?

John said...

Dear Leighton,

Hi. You wrote: "Paul has no problem crediting Abraham for his faith,. . ." No. This is not what Paul says. The Apostle says that faith is a gift (Eph. 2:9-10).

Your arguments are so confused I'd encourage you to go back and read my previous posts, much of the discussion on the regeneration thread, and spend some time carefully following the unfolding of the book of Romans, etc.

Sadly, it wasn't my logic that you didn't accept but what Gen. 6:5 (and the other scriptures) simply say: "every inclination of their hearts is only evil all the time." With three sweeping, absolute qualifiers, there's nothing complicated about it. Human beings apart from God's grace are totally depraved and incapable of saving faith.

J. Gray said...

The self-righteousness of those who pop in and out of blogs to post comments amazes me.

I love how people, people who only come here when a "hot topic" is being discussed, blast people here implying that they are not faithful ministers for wasting time on a blog (ironic considering the attack was made on a blog), implying that the blog owner is unethical and even sinful for allowing discussion to take place, and basically speaking with a pronounced sense of self-righteous indignation toward everyone else.

It just amazes me.

Brad, I understand if you disagree with Calvinism. But that isn't the issue. The issue is if the Caners have conducted themselves in a way that brings honor to Christ. They have not.
Although I would never say that Ergun Caner is not saved (despite his belief that James White is not saved...interesting that you "forget" that), his actions are not Christ-like.
I also agree that some of the responses on here about him are not Christ-like. One does not excuse the other, on that I am sure we agree (well, if you agreed that Caner was acting unChrist-like).
But the fact that YOU come on here and blast people's comments smacks of self-righteous nonsense. The reason people don't respond well to your statements is because of several reasons:
1) you only show up to blast people here
2) your comments are condescending
3) you are one-sided (if you want to crtiique the discussion - critique both sides)
4) your comments are disrespectful and you skip over glaring issues that are crucial to the discussion

I agree with you that people here (myself included) need to be more Christ-like in their comments to and about the Caners...but you, sir, are not the one to tell this group that. There have been others here all along warning of that problem and making statements of the same kind.

You have a hidden agenda and an apparent dislike for the people here...so that is why no one takes your comments seriously.

- Gray

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