Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What really happened to the debate, pt. 2

My September 13th email took the original format suggested by Ergun Caner in his May 11th email in which he first introduced the Parliamentary format and set out the actual speaking schedule for what was then a proposed 2 hour debate (it was later agreed to extend it to 2 1/2 hours). Since our agreement in late July increased the length of the debate to 3 hours the time allotments for each speech and cross examination needed to be increased. Here is part of Ergun's original proposal:
FORMAT:

Speeches start with the affirmative and alternate between the affirmative and negative throughout the debate.
The first and last speech on each side of the question are uninterruptible.
Any member of the opposing team may interrupt the speeches in the middle of the debate in order to ask the speaker to yield to a question.
Speakers are not required to answer these questions
  • 1st Affirmative Speech: (10 minutes) uninterrupted
  • Cross-Examination: 4 minutes
  • 1st Negative Speech: (10 minutes) uninterrupted
  • Cross Examination: 4 minutes
  • 2nd Affirmative Speech: (10 minutes):
The first and last minute of the speech are uninterruptible.
In the 2nd-9th minutes of the speech any opposition debater may ask the speaker to yield to a question.
The speaker may accept, or decline the question.
  • Cross Examination: 4 minutes
  • Negative Speech: (10 minutes):
The first and last minute of the speech are uninterruptible.
In the 2nd-9th minutes of the speech any opposition debater may ask the speaker to yield to a question.
The speaker may accept, or decline the question
  • Cross Examination: 4 minutes
  • 1st Affirmative Rebuttal: (6 minutes)
The first and last minute of the speech are uninterruptible.
In the 2nd-5th minutes of the speech any opposition debater may ask the speaker to yield to a question.
The speaker may accept, or decline the question
  • Optional audience participation
  • Negative Rebuttal: (8 minutes): Uninterrupted
  • Affirmative Rebuttal: (6 minutes) Uninterrupted
Here is my email from September 13th:

Brothers:

I trust each of you is well and enjoying the labors of the ministry. Ergun and Emir, I hope that your mother's health has improved and James, I trust that you are recovering from the break-in and theft of your computer equipment. I have been praying for all of you.

As October 16 creeps up on us I want to nail down some of the specifics about our debate. I will be traveling a great deal between now and then and it would be very helpful to me if I could have the schedule of the debate clearly in mind as soon as possible to help me prepare.

At the end of July, here is what we agreed to regarding the length, format and thesis:

Length: 3 hours; this is to be divided into 2 sections; separated by a 15 minute intermission with equal time allotted for each speaker.

Format: Modified Parliamentary; following the basic schedule that Ergun laid out in his May 11, 2006 email. The times for each speech and cross ex will be adjusted to include the extra 30 minutes in this revision. Also, the speeches that are designated "interruptible" may only be interrupted once and with a question that takes no more than 15 seconds. The cross examination times are for questions, not speeches, and are to be related to the previous statement.

Thesis: Baptists and Calvinism: An Open Debate. No one should feel restricted from using any Baptist or Biblical material in his presentation.

I have taken the liberty to go back over Ergun's email from May 11 and have tried to adjust times to fit into a 3-hour allotment. Following are the results. Please let me know if this is acceptable or if we need to make further adjustments. If this is acceptable then we can all begin making preparations accordingly. If it is not, please make adjustments as soon as possible. Thanks!

In Christ,
tom

***************************************************************************

Baptists and Calvinism: An Open Debate

Speeches start with the affirmative and alternate between the affirmative and negative throughout the debate.

The first and last speech on each side of the question are uninterruptible.

Any member of the opposing team may interrupt the speeches so designated in order to ask the speaker to yield to one question which must be asked within a 15 second time frame.
Speakers are not required to answer these questions.
  • 1st Affirmative Speech: (20 minutes) uninterrupted
  • Cross-Examination: 5 minutes
  • 1st Negative Speech: (20 minutes) uninterrupted
  • Cross Examination: 5 minutes
  • 2nd Affirmative Speech: (20 minutes):
The first and last minute of the speech are uninterruptible.
In the 2nd-9th minutes of the speech any opposition debater may ask the speaker to yield to a question.
The speaker may accept, or decline the question.
  • Cross Examination: 5 minutes
  • 2nd Negative Speech: (20 minutes):
The first and last minute of the speech are uninterruptible.
In the 2nd-9th minutes of the speech any opposition debater may ask the speaker to yield to a question.
The speaker may accept, or decline the question
  • Cross Examination: 5 minutes
BREAK
  • 1st Affirmative Rebuttal: (12 minutes)
  • Cross Examination: 5 minutes
  • 1st Negative Rebuttal: (12 minutes)
  • Cross Examination: 5 minutes
  • 2nd Affirmative Rebuttal: (12 minutes)
  • Cross Examination: 5 minutes
  • 2nd Negative Rebuttal: (12 minutes)
  • Cross Examination: 5 minutes
  • Affirmative Closing Statement: 6 minutes
  • Negative Closing Statement: 6 minutes
You can easily see that all I did was take Ergun's proposal, eliminate the audience participation (which had been discussed) increase speaking times and add a break and closing statements in order to fill out the 3 hours of actual debate to which Ergun, Emir, James and I had agreed.

James White immediately responded to my email with his approval of these details. By September 25, 12 days after sending it out, I still had not heard from Emir or Ergun Caner. So, I called Emir and caught him at the Joshua Convergence being held outside Orlando, Florida. In that call I appealed to him to let me know if the details that I had sent in the email were acceptable to him and Ergun and reiterated the time constraints under which I was working. He promised to check with his brother and get back with me within 48 hours. He did so via email on September 27th. His response consisted of four words: "Your assessment is correct."

Two days later I boarded an airplane for Brazil, with notes and resources to make final preparations for my 42-45 minutes of the 3 hour debate on which all four men had agreed. In the middle of my speaking engagement in Brazil, On October 4th (12 days before the debate) I received a copy of an email that Brett O'Donnell sent which opened with this line:
"Below are the final details for the debate and are non-negotiable as they are based on what had been settled through earlier discussions."
Then followed this "final format:"
The format:
The affirmative (though I use that term loosely since there really is no resolution) will be the Caners. The negative will be Drs. Ascol and White. I have amended the format forwarded by Dr. Ascol since it will make the debate last much longer than 3 hours. Below is the format that will be used in the debate.
Structure:
  • 7:00 pm-Introductions, instructions to the audience and opening prayer-Moderator
  • 7:10 Debate begins:
Speeches begin with the affirmative and alternate between the affirmative and negative throughout the debate.
The first and last speech on each side of the question are uninterruptible.
Any member of the opposing team may interrupt the speeches designated below in order to ask the speaker to yield to one question that must be asked in a 15 second time-frame (a question and not a speech). The speaker is not required to answer the question. Each speech may only be interrupted once.
Cross-Examination is for asking questions and not for making speeches.
  • 1st Affirmative Speech: uninterrupted 15 minutes
  • Cross-Examination: 5 minutes
  • 1st Negative Speech: uninterrupted 15 minutes
  • Cross Examination: 5 minutes
  • 2nd Affirmative Speech: 15 minutes
The first and last minute of any speech are uninterruptible.
In the 2nd-14th minutes of the speech any opposition debater may ask the speaker to yield to a question.
The speaker may accept, or decline the question.
  • Cross Examination: 5 minutes
  • 2nd Negative Speech: 15 minutes
The first and last minute of the speech are uninterruptible.
In the 2nd-9th minutes of the speech any opposition debater may ask the speaker to yield to a question.
The speaker may accept, or decline the question.
  • Cross Examination: 5 minutes
  • Intermission: 15 minutes
  • 1st Negative Rebuttal: 12 minutes
  • 1st Affirmative Rebuttal: 12 minutes
The first and last minute of the speech are uninterruptible.
In the 2nd-5th minutes of the speech any opposition debater may ask the speaker to yield to a question.
The speaker may accept, or decline the question.
  • 2nd Negative Rebuttal: Uninterrupted 12 minutes
  • 2nd Affirmative Rebuttal: Uninterrupted 12 minutes
One need not be a mathematician to recognize that over 1/2 an hour of time was excised from the debate by moderatorial fiat. This removed one of the key points of negotiation between Emir and me that caused me to decide to reenter the debate in July. Those negotiations, as the email documentation proves, agreed upon 3 hours of debating.

Additionally, Dr. O'Donnell included in his email a "no use agreement" granting exclusive rights to the recording and distribution of the debate to Liberty Broadcasting Network which we are instructed to sign and return by fax within two days.

Upon receiving notice of O'Donnell's email, I immediately called Ergun from Brazil and left voice mail on his phone. I was able to actually speak to Emir by phone and asked him how our agreement could be set aside by the moderator, without any discussion and at such late date? He said that he knew nothing more about it than I did, but would look into it and get back to me within 48 hours.

Over the next two days, James White and Brett O'Donnell exchanged a series of pointed emails in which James attempted to inform and remind Dr. O'Donnell that we had a written agreemetn that he had unilaterally set aside. Among the more egregious statements that O'Donnell made in that exchange was this:
"The times that Tom forwarded to Ergun were not accepted, but proposed by Tom for a three hour debate."
Due to my limited access to a reliable internet server, I was unable to send email very often from Brazil. When I was able to get email out, I attempted simply to buttress James' recitation of the facts that Dr. O'Donnell was completely disregarding. Those facts could have just as easily been confirmed by either Emir or Ergun Caner, but were not.

These are the facts. I submit that they are indisputable. Most of them are documented. All of them are verifiable. Compare them with the declarations by Ergun and Emir Caner.

Tomorrow I will conclude my thoughts on this sad saga with final reflections and my own effort to make some sense of these events.

40 comments:

sparrowhawk said...

An example of humble, graceful response to the matter, both you and Dr. White. You are examples to us all.

Had I not listened to Phil Johnson's Grace Life podcast three weeks ago where Dr. White lectured on Islam, the 'arbitrary-ness' of the Caners' actions would not have made sense when reflecting on all this. However, Dr. White made an interesting comment in the lecture, and I heavily paraphrase: "Allah has arbitrary-esque behavior - just like Mohammed. Capable of showing grace and mercy in one hour while beheading a thousand victims in the next."

I am not equating the vivid example of the latter to the Caners, but given they are former Muslims, the seemingly arbitrary-ness of their actions and comments during this whole matter make better sense in light of their heritage.

Thank you again, Drs Ascol and White for your graceful response.

centuri0n said...

I say, "let's be grateful this is over."

Even in the previously-agreed format, the odds of getting a word in edgewise seems pretty low to me. A very plausible tactic in that format would be to buffet one's opponent with questions, and if he refused to answer one's questions for any reason -- like, "I haven't really started my point yet" -- one could then declare the encounter a victory because the opponent was intransigent and unwilling to answer questions.

Write it off. Someday this debate will happen between two well-suited advocates. Just not in 6 days.

Chessmann said...

During each of the main presentations, only one question could be asked, which could take no more than 15 seconds to be asked.

Richard D said...

Tom - thank you for posting this detail of what preceded the decision to cancel the debate. I am disappointed.

I would ask all of you to pray for the pastor of our church, Mike O'Brien, who will be appearing on today's Dividing Line broadcast with James White and Tom Ascol. Mike O'Brien works in the Dean of Men's office at LU and could see a strong response from the powers that be there as a result of his comments on the Dividing Line. I know the folks at Liberty are interested in his appearance on the broadcast because our web site tracking software has logged quite a few hits from the Liberty Staff server since I posted the information about the Dividing Line on our web site yesterday.

The ripples continue to expand.

Bill Formella said...

But in 15 seconds Ergun could've asked a question that was more like a cluster bomb with 20 different sub points. What was it that Brett O'Donnell said his debate team does? Something like ask too many questions so they can't all possibly be answered?

Bill Formella said...

I would love to hear from the LU students who keep up with this blog on whether or not there is any noticeable difference in attendance during the 2 PM time slot today.

stilldesiringGod said...

I will not try to wax eloquent with my response here and will make it quite simple. They are scared to debate you guys! I would be to. I even agree with the positions you hold to. It would be quite intimidating just to be in a conversation with the both of you at the same time, let alone one in which your guns are pointed straight at me. Those guys turn and ran, whether it was under the cover of Jerry Falwell and/or moderator Brett O’Donnell. Would you want to see your buddies get smoked by two of the top Reformed Baptist? Of course not. Better to just find a why to stir things up, make things unacceptable like debating terms and cancel the debate to save face. Now I understand, Tom, that you and James are just men. Some of the bloggers give little respect to you guys because of the doctrinal positions you hold to. Stand fast brothers. You have not yet suffered to bloodshed. Centuri0n makes a good point about two well-suited advocates not showing up to this debate had it happened. Only one side would have been well represented. It is not as though we have John and Charles over there, the dynamic brother tandem of the left, er, um, I mean the other left.

Greg B said...

I don't know if I would call it fear. Any "conservative" non-soveriegn grace can tell you that anytime the subject is discussed they lose. Though I respect Dr. Patterson (formerly of SEBTS now SWBTS), he saw this on the SEBTS campus several times. Each time a discussion took place or a Soveriegn grace pastor would preach at SEBTS more young ministers to be would read reformed books and even better, scripture. Not all would be Founders folk, but all would adjust their views a bit. I hate to draw this parallel, but if an established church wishes to not be challenged in its theological stance, it avoids discussion. The Liberty crew and the Caner's didn't learn this until it was almost too late. And trust me, there will be LU students giving soveriegn grace an open ear because they offered and then backed out. And people will know that they and the LU admin are the ones who wished to change the rules at the last minute. Written agreement and all. They will think and wonder.
Greg B

BK said...

Tom -

I have read and re-read the alternating proposals for the debate schedule, and something really bothers me about the one Dr. O'Donnell sent.

He said the following:

"Speeches begin with the affirmative and alternate between the affirmative and negative throughout the debate."

This would lead one to believe that the affirmative (the Caners) would have the first word in the debate, and that the negative (White and Ascol) would have the *last* word.

But the last portion of Dr. O'Donnell's schedule shows the following:

1st Negative Rebuttal: 12 minutes
1st Affirmative Rebuttal: 12 minutes

The first and last minute of the speech are uninterruptible.

In the 2nd-5th minutes of the speech any opposition debater may ask the speaker to yield to a question.

The speaker may accept, or decline the question.

2nd Negative Rebuttal: Uninterrupted 12 minutes
2nd Affirmative Rebuttal: Uninterrupted 12 minutes


What is considered a "speech"? Is a rebuttal a speech? If so, then why was the order reversed to allow the affirmative to get the last word? If a rebuttal is *not* a "speech", then what meaning is there to the statement "... throughout the debate", as the "speeches" (using this definition) do not last throughout the whole of the debate?

"Throughout the debate ..." gives the impression that speeches would alternate until the very end.

Tom, I see that your suggested schedule maintained the "affirmative first, negative second" throughout the entire debate, but that this was something changed by Dr. O'Donnell.

I realize the benefit of getting the last word in (as my wife always reminds me I attempt to do :) ), but isn't it a bit odd that Dr. O'Donnell would give the first and the last word to his Liberty brothers, especially considering what was said about "alternating speeches?"

Just my .02.

-- Brian

stilldesiringGod said...

Hey, Greg B, I recognize I can not know that it is fear, I am just saying it looks like fear running. Also, I think you assist my point when you say statements like- anytime the subject is discussed they lose and- Each time a discussion took place or a Sovereign grace pastor would preach at SEBTS more young ministers to be would read reformed books and even better, Scripture. Sounds like there needs to be fear to me! If I was clinging to unsound doctrine not supported by Holy Writ but just had the backing of friends and poor theology I would not have much reason to have hope and fear entering a debate with the likes of men who take Scripture so seriously and can wield the Sword so craftily.

DOGpreacher said...

Brothers,

Why do we shy away from stating the obvious (I say the obvious because I have kept up with all communications on each of these blog/web sites as I have found them, printed them, and put into a notebook) concerning these two men.

**Honesty & integrity eludes these men.**

There...I've said it.

If one reads the "conversations" between the two sides, there is one thing that is glaringly obvious. SOMEBODY is lying!

The antagonistic, mean-spirited & spiteful spewings from their sites reveal a much deeper problem than just their theological stance.

Someone might say that my comments are mean, but I will tell you that I stand by the notebook that is in front of me containing every written piece of dialogue between these men that was posted (to my knowledge)on each of their sites. IF I said any less, I should then be lumped into the same category as them.

I believe it is entirely acceptable to call someone (ESPESCIALLY those who are in positions such as these two men are) to accountability for their words/speech. Both the veracity OF, and the spirit IN which they have communicated on this issue should be called into question.

Oh, I know...this is so intolerant!

stilldesiringGod said...

dogpreacher, kudos, brother! Call it like you see it and like it is! And when they attack your name and they quit coming to your church and when your are fired and the only thing you have left is that notebook to cling to, remember IT IS GAIN! Forget PC, keep calling it like you see it, we need more Founders brothers to speak up and out for the truth and to not be passive. Position and life and comforts by the wayside, they are only temporary. The Truth has set us free! Sorry for being so emotional! Jesus loves me!

Jlbrightbill said...

bill formella:
I would love to hear from the LU students who keep up with this blog on whether or not there is any noticeable difference in attendance during the 2 PM time slot today.

I'm not following this, care to clarify?

Matt Snowden said...

I think it is time to have a calm and irenic discussion about Calvinism in Baptist life. I am currently having this kind of conversation with some friends on my blog and am being blessed by it. I am not a calvinist but deeply want to learn from you guys. I am sorry to hear this saga of the LU debate.

Bartimaeus said...

One Side has provided documentry evidence on what actually took place durring negotiations. One side has provided spin. One side has wanted to actually debate the issue the other side wants sound bites. One side wanted a real meaningful debate to take place one side did not.

Kevin Rhyne said...

I am disappointed, but hopeful that the buzz about this debate will drive LU students and others to their Bibles. Kudos to Drs. White and Ascol and they way they conducted themselves on the DL today. Thanks for maintaining the bar for the rest of us.

Bill Formella said...

Mr. Brightbill: My thought was that if enough students found out about the Dividing Line program some might stay back to listen to it. Then again, since they can listen to the archive later, what's the point.

AOMin said...

I think it is time to have a calm and irenic discussion about Calvinism in Baptist life.

I thought that I might lighten the mood a bit ;-)

Dr. Caner seems to think that the reformed portion of the SBC is expendable. So I thought that I might suggest........

ARBCA 8-D

Come on over brothers....the water is fine. :-)

Jlbrightbill said...

In all honesty I would venture 90-99% of even the LU students who hold to reformed doctrine had never heard the name James White before the debate advertisements began, and probably still don't.

Although I'm making a sweeping generalization here, the vast majority of LU students do not have a strong belief about any doctrinal position and if they do, they very rarely can defend it effectively. The three main things I hear are that they don't care, don't know, or think it's not important. As such, this entire debate debacle will be at most one 10 second blip on their conversational radar.

Timmy said...

On his post, Emir concluded:

I would argue that it would be, shall we say, a pulpit crime to overlook the love of God that He has for all men…

Mr. Caner, it would be an exegetical fallacy to reduce God's love to one meaning, sir. No one is overlooking God's love for all men. However, it is very possible to overlook sound exegesis by philosphical presuppositions inasmuch it is easy to eisegete Romans 9 to say that God hated Esau based on what he did.

Your imposition of the thesis of God's omnibenevolence is an uncritical defense, especially given the heretical camps that use this philosophical construct as a basis for their rejection of orthodox Christianity (see Talbott's Universalism, Hick's Pluralism, Pinnock's Open Theism, et al.).

Howard Fisher said...

AOMin said, "Dr. Caner seems to think that the reformed portion of the SBC is expendable. So I thought that I might suggest........

ARBCA 8-D

Come on over brothers....the water is fine. :-)"

I agree. Now how to do that?! hmmmm.

Jeff A. Spry said...

Over at Calvinist Gadfly, "Willliam D" said this:

Mr. Caner's father died some years ago rejecting Christ. Caner witnessed to him on his deathbed but his father would not let go of his Islam. For Mr. Caner to accept that his father was not one of the elect must be a pretty difficult thing to come to terms with. I think that his zeal and anger against Calvinism is fueled by his refusal to accept that his father could have accepted Christ, but could not because God had not chosen to give him the faith to do so.

That is good insight, as is this from a good friend of mine named Brian P: Caner is a former Muslim and well acquainted with the fatalism of that false religion. Perhaps the reason why he exhibits such vitriol towards the Doctrines of Grace stems from his aversion towards anything that smacks of any sort of determinism (whether hard or soft). He wants as far away from Islam as he can get - not understanding the difference between Islam's fatalism and biblical determinism.

While not entirely sure, these two thoughts shed a semblance of light on Caner's personal hatred for reformed soteriology.

Chessmann said...

Someone on another blog posted that Ergun's father passed away still holding on to Islam. Ergun witnessed to his father, who was on his deathbed, but the father would not trust in Christ.

The poster felt that this could possibly be a reason that Ergun dislikes Calvinism to such a degree, being that his own father was not one of God's elect.

I hope that there will be some confirmation to this story as either fact of fiction. If true, it might help us understand the man better.

Mark

Chessmann said...

Well, it looks like someone posted the same info as I was typing!

Tom Bryant said...

Chessman and Jeff spry,
I have no clue what you are trying to say. I am not a Calvinist but it has nothing to do with the fact that my sister went to hell without Christ. In fact, I could probably get some comfort if I believed that she couldn't have because she was not among the elect. Then I would know it was not her choice but God's. And I trust His choices.

As it is now, I believe that she never came to Christ because she refused. That is heart breeaking to me.

My question is: Can someone not accept Calvinism because they believe the Bible teaches differently?

With that said, I am also sad that this will not happen. In reading the writings of Drs. Ascol and White, I have the highest respect for their honesty, integrity and committment to Biblical doctrine. I'm not sure I can say the same about the Drs. Caners.

Mike said...

My prayer in all of this is that SBC pastors and leaders will, in the end, see that passion and volume are no substitute for sound theology. This applies in innumerable ways across our convention.

Jeff A. Spry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff A. Spry said...

Tom Bryant,

I don't think I made any implications about the reasons why someone does or does not accept the Doctrines of Grace. I surely didn't imply that the similarities between the death of Caner's father and your sister demand that the both of you similarly dismiss Calvinism. To see that in my short post is a huge leap in logic.

Obviously people have different reasons for a refusal to accept the Doctrines of Grace. I have just found (in my personal experience and in reading of others' experiences) that those reasons are usually not biblical (at least CONSISTENTLY biblical) but instead are usually personal and emotional and for the most part TRADITIONAL.

You, sir, may very well be the exception.

Jlbrightbill said...

http://trbc.org/new/resources.php

Scroll down to September 17th, the message titled "Personal Testimony" by Ergun Caner. He speaks about his father, overall testimony, and gives a good look into the background he's coming out of.

Stephen Newell said...

Tom Bryant,

As a fellow non-Calvinist, I would answer that I think it is possible that someone can genuinely disagree with Calvinism on the basis of Scripture. But the problem here is many of the "disagreements" out there are so far from Scriptural it isn't funny.

If we're going to disagree with a theological position, it needs to be a) on the basis of what that position actually teaches and b) what is revealed about said position in Scripture. Very, very little of that has been done thus far in the whole "controversy" over Calvinism in the SBC.

That said, I would tend to agree that people refuse to come. In fact, unless I've completely misunderstood, that's exactly what the doctrines of grace teach. At the default position, we are in enmity with God and do not seek Him, since there is no fear of Him before our eyes (Romans 3). By nature, we will not come to Christ. That is why we need God to be the one who saves, because quite simply we can't do it, no matter how much we'd like to think we are "able."

Does this mean those family members of ours who have refused are responsible? Yes. Can we be comforted that it was God's choice to allow her to remain non-elect. Again, yes. Why? Because what we intend for evil, or what we think could constitute evil (especially on the part of a "loving God"), Scripture is very clear that God has intended for good. There is some good God has ordained to come out of the reprobate. And as you've said, we just need to trust God's choices in the matter.

Chessmann said...

Tom Bryant,

You wrote:

"My question is: Can someone not accept Calvinism because they believe the Bible teaches differently?"

People do all the time. The question then becomes, "Which side is exegeting the related texts of scripture with the most consistency?"

Best,

Mark

GeneMBridges said...

In fact, I could probably get some comfort if I believed that she couldn't have because she was not among the elect. Then I would know it was not her choice but God's. And I trust His choices.

Of course, no Calvinist would deny either of these. We agree, the reason she did not believe is that she refused. God was under no compulsion to elect her, ergo, she refused. The blame is her own, not His. She was left to her own nature.
Why is it that, no matter how many times we go over this ground, non-Calvinists pay it no mind?

You seem to believe this: A choice by God in eternity would mean that people are lost because they are not elected.

This objection overlooks the reason why people are condemned and confounds the difference between a necessary and a sufficient condition. People are condemned on account of their sins, and for this reason, they are lost, and for this reason, they are, apart from Christ, sent to hell. God's decree does nothing on its own. It merely renders an end certain. The means is considered as a separate, "subdecree."

First, election renders a thing certain. However, election alone is insufficient to render a person justified. Reprobation as preterition (passing over) of a sinner is a necessary, but alone an insufficient condition to result in condemnation. Faith in Christ is both necessary and sufficient to guarantee justification. Sin is both necessary and sufficient to guarantee condemnation. All men are sinners, and all men without exception are unable to believe in Christ and repent of their sins. This inability is moral, not natural. They “can’t” because they “won’t.” Apart from grace, this is their natural condition. Therefore, men are lost because they are sinners, not because they are not elected. Not all sinners are elected, but then, apart from election, no man would desire to not be a sinner. The entire objection ultimately tries to center itself on the notion that it is wrong for God to “violate” men’s free wills. Since Calvinism maintains that men’s “free will” decision apart from effectual grace and unconditional election is, in fact, to be lost, why is the Arminian objecting?

How do men come by saving faith? Through calling. How do they come by calling? Through election. Without election, men could not be saved. The objection would be valid if and only if men could, of their own free wills muster saving faith, but their wills are bound by their love of evil. The implication of the objection is that men are condemned apart from their sin. This is false. It seeks to imply that Calvinists teach men who want into the kingdom are left out, and men who don’t want in are “dragged kicking and screaming.” This is also false. None who wish to enter are left out; none who wish to be left out get into the kingdom. The question the synergist must answer is: Why do some believe and not others?

Caner is a former Muslim and well acquainted with the fatalism of that false religion. Perhaps the reason why he exhibits such vitriol towards the Doctrines of Grace stems from his aversion towards anything that smacks of any sort of determinism (whether hard or soft). He wants as far away from Islam as he can get - not understanding the difference between Islam's fatalism and biblical determinism.

And, of course, the great irony is that his acceptance of libertarian action theory and infallible foreknowledge makes him a bigger fatalist than any Calvinist can hope to be.

, since God is not actively foreknowing and predestinating people, in the Arminian system, we see real impersonal determinism working itself out by way of real fatalism. Thus the free will position that seeks to preserve man’s freedom of choice is, in reality, impersonal and fixed, thus being both deterministic and fatalistic. The only way to make it less fixed is the way of Open Theism, which denies the omniscience and omnipotence of God! The Calvinist position is personal, and God is active in the lives of people who make real choices with real moral boundaries. Calvinism is thus inherently personal for both God and man! We agree with Arminians that real, impersonal determinism and fatalism are repugnant to God and man and perversion of the gospel. We thank them for pointing this out. Why then, we ask, do they believe that very thing themselves?

AOMin said, "Dr. Caner seems to think that the reformed portion of the SBC is expendable. So I thought that I might suggest........

ARBCA 8-D

Come on over brothers....the water is fine. :-)"

I hate to be on the wrong side of James White (but, hey, I have Steve Hays in my corner, so why not :D), but why not ask all the ARBCA churches to join the SBC? Let's have a massive influx of RB churches. It sure would be a morale boost for our Founders brethren. Also, given the fact that some churches are now catching on and purging their rolls of the "Lapsi," you'd think they'd want to offset the losses.

Richard Ash said...

Why is it that Drs. Caner will not allow any posts on their blog sites. Dr. Ascol is has allowed people on both sides of the debate to speak out. I am just wondering if the Caners would be overwhelmed by the people who hold to the reformed view. If any one knows where you can post directly to the Caners would you please let us know.

Elias said...

...I hear crickets

Mike said...

Well, emailed Ergun Caner since there was no way to leave a comment. The email address is available on his website. ergun@erguncaner.com

Tartanarmy said...

GeneMBridges..That was such a good post! Thank you.

Mark

Tom Bryant said...

Guys,
There was no reading it into your words. That was exactly what you did say:
"Mr. Caner's father died some years ago rejecting Christ. Caner witnessed to him on his deathbed but his father would not let go of his Islam. For Mr. Caner to accept that his father was not one of the elect must be a pretty difficult thing to come to terms with. I think that his zeal and anger against Calvinism is fueled by his refusal to accept that his father could have accepted Christ, but could not because God had not chosen to give him the faith to do so."

There was nothing implicit, it was explicit.

Complex.Behavior said...

Of course, given Caner’s outlook where “whosoever will”, he should be REALLY mad at God for allowing his father to be born into a heritage where letting go and turning to Christ is so humanly difficult. I mean, for God to be really fair to everyone then everyone would need the same chance, right? The decision to accept Christ in the USA when you are born into a Baptist church going family carries a lot fewer consequences and is seemingly easier than it is for the person who has to turn his back on his culture, traditions and family. How can that be fair? Does God really play favorites by making it easier for some to accept Christ than others?

Jeff A. Spry said...

Tom Bryant,

Let me repeat what was explicit in my post:

The copy from Calvist Gadfly said that it is possible that Caner's "zeal and anger against Calvinism" could be fueled by his father's death. NOT his reason for denying Calvinism but his ZEAL and ANGER against it.

In the second half of the post, I wrote that "perhaps the reason why he exhibits such vitriol" against Calvinism is its similarity (in his mind) to the fatalism of his former religious heritage. Again, no mention of his reason for not accepting but his possible reason for being so forceful in his preachign against it.

Missing the point, you asked: "Can someone not accept Calvinism because they believe the Bible teaches differently?"

I answered: "I don't think I made any implications about the reasons why someone does or does not accept the Doctrines of Grace."

Ignoring my words and still missing the point, you responded: "There was no reading it into your words. That was exactly what you did say. . . . There was nothing implicit, it was explicit."

Now do you see that your "implication" was NOT what I said? I mentioned nothing about why he refuses to believe. I spoke to why he has such a hatred of it.

philness said...

All of this is so troubling for me. Who would thought in the midst of the age of grace the Lords' children could bicker such? I hear both the Caners speak on Ankerbergs program and in my spirit they both mesh with mine. I guess it just goes to show that sin as no boundries...it affects even the children of God who both proclaim the blood of Christ and preach His gospel. I believe the Calvinism Arminianism issue is simply a cart before the horse issue. God is the horse and man is the cart. But no....sin will not allow it and as long as we are in this fallen world we shall see this simple concept bickered over like children until His return. Oh Father, how much longer will it be that you look upon your saints in their bickerings? Might you have seen enough already? Might you make it this day that you unite us with your Glory. Come soon Lord Jesus! Come soon!