Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What really happened to the debate, pt. 3

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HT for the cartoon: James White and Angelz

Ergun Caner has written that the debate was cancelled because, "They quit." As I have tried to show in the previous blog entries, it's not quite that simple. We refused to allow the moderator, with the approval of Drs. Caner, to completely renege on the agreement that the debaters had negotiated. I am very disappointed that neither Ergun nor Emir stepped up to stop the sabotage of our agreement. Either could have done so very easily immediately after Dr. O'Donnell's October 4th email asserting completely new terms. For reasons unknown to me, they chose not to do so.

Though I am disappointed that the debate will not happen, I am not sorry that a sincere effort was made to cause it to happen. I am sorry that so many had made plans and are now left holding reservations that they no longer need. Some have emailed and called and indicated that they will be traveling to Lynchburg anyway, since they have non-refundable tickets and hotel reservations. Perhaps such people can somehow connect with each other for fellowship while in town.

The effort that was put into attempting this debate, as frustrating as it was at times, has already served many useful purposes. It has provided a context and forum for some serious discussion about the doctrines of grace. It has called attention to Baptist theology. In this respect, I agree with Emir Caner when he writes, "It is never a waste of time to study theology - never." I believe that many have been provoked to look more deeply into our Baptist heritage over the last few months leading up to the debate. Its sabotage has not diminished the value of such studies.

With that being said, I am grieved and concerned by the way that the demise of the debate has been construed by the other side. Dr. O'Donnell wrote this in an October 8th email:
I have spoken with Dr. Falwell regarding the debate. Given that the two
sides cannot agree on the terms of the debate in a spirit of compromise
he concurs that the debate should not occur and therefore there will not
be a debate on October 16 agreeing with the decision that was announced
on Friday by Dr. White. I would hope that perhaps in the future all
parties could come to terms for a civil discussion on these important
Since I was back in the USA by that time, I immediately responded with the following email:
Dr. O'Donnell:
Thanks for letting us know. I sincerely hope that someone will explain to Dr. Falwell that the two sides did in fact agree on the terms of the debate in a spirit of compromise and that we even have written confirmation of that agreement. The reason this debate has been cancelled is because one side was willing to honor that agreement and the other side was not. Those are the facts--sad, but nevertheless, true.
Any suggestion that this debate was cancelled due to an unwillngness to compromise or negotiate terms is inaccurate at best and most likely dishonest. Both James and I have provided overwhelming documentation of this fact. Further, the agreement to which all four debaters agreed did not, in Emir Caner's words, "overlook time needed for introductions, intermissions, etc." The terms to which we agreed included 3 hours of actual debate.

I have two great concerns in the wake of this whole fiasco. The first is that sinful passions have been and will continue to be incited by not only what has happened but by the mischaracterization of the facts. I sent an email to Ergun yesterday appealing to him to speak the truth in love and to refrain from calling James White or me hyper-Calvinists. He has obviously disregarded my appeal. The result has been as I feared. He has discredited himself in the eyes of those who actually know what hyper-Calvinism is and has incited strong and sometime sinful reactions on the part of some.

My greater concern, however, goes to the very heart of a growing conviction that I have held over the last several years. It is a matter that I have repeatedly addressed on this blog, in sermons, articles and casual conversations. Often I am accused of being only or at least primarily concerned with seeing Calvinism recovered and spread. I know that is how I am perceived but it is certainly not a self-conscious priority. Rather, I am convinced that we have far bigger issues than Calvinism confronting us today. I am convinced that, in many respects and in many places across evangelicalism we have lost the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Far more important than recovering Calvinism is recovering biblical Christianity itself. So much that takes place in our churches and institutions today simply is not Christian. It may be religious. It may be ritualistic. It may be traditional. But too often it simply is not Christian.

This loss of Christianity among the "Christian" community is what makes the line separating the world and the church so blurred. The church looks, thinks and acts increasingly like the world in many ways, often intentionally so. Consequently, we are seeing the demise of "Christian ethics" all around us. This explains why on so many moral issues the conduct of Christians and non-Christians is indistinguishable. When biblical Christianity has been trampled underfoot or lost altogether, those within the Christian community feel no qualms of conscious acting like mere worldlings.

Much of what I have seen surrounding the demise of this debate sadly fits this profile. Please note: I am not speaking of anyone's personal relationship with Christ. I am not questioning anyone's salvation. But I am deeply concerned that the distortions, misrepresentations and false accusations are simply that--not Christian. An untruth is an untruth no matter the credentials of the man who speaks it. Bearing false witness is simply that, regardless of who does it.

The events of the last week should not be measured in terms of Calvinism and Arminianism. Rather, they should be evaluated in terms of biblical Christianity and unbelief. Christians are commanded to speak the truth and not falsehoods (Ephesians 4:25). The righteous man, we are told, swears to his own hurt (Psalm 15:4). That is, he keeps his word even when inconvenient or painfully difficult. Christians are to let our yes be yes and our no, no (Matthew 5:37; James 5;12).

These are a few of the principles of biblical Christianity that have been violated in the sabotage of the debate.

Balthasar Hubmaier's famous dictum has been often quoted: "The truth is immortal." He was right, of course, and therefore all lovers of truth can take heart. Even though truth sometimes suffers at the hands of its friends and takes some severe blows, it cannot be killed.


Chessmann said...

Thank you for your posts regarding this situation, Dr. Ascol.

I am looking forward to seeing what God will do as a result of all of this, and hope that it will in some way bring greater glory to Him.


pregador27 said...

Sad, but not surprised. Based on the emails I have read from the beginning, I fully expected this type of ending, including the spin to save face.

The Caners and Mr. O'Donnell (Dr.?) do not reflect all of non-Reformed Southern Baptists. I have found many who are honest and work as brethern, not as antagonists. I will add the Caners and O'Donnell to my prayers along with Liberty U and Jerry Falwell. May God change their hearts with the truth.

Forest A said...

Oh man, that was the best laugh I have had in a long time.... great comic! Now, I'll go back and read the post.

Forest A said...


Very well said. Thank you for your efforts in placing the facts in such a plain manner and for your transparency regarding the surroundings of the issue at hand. I would also like to thank you for the care you have taken in not encouraging any of us to take up arms against the Caners and thus fall into sin ourselves. Early on you made some remarks regarding the Caners that you later deemed inappropriate, you repented publicly and sought forgiveness. Thank you for your example. Since that time it seems as if you have taken extra care to assure that you not return down that same path and to do your best to calm any harsh tones that may indicate others traveling down that same path. This is the true heart of a pastor and undershepherd of Christ's flock. May we all learn from your example and look to Christ that the same spirit of humility be applied to our lives.

- forest

irRational said...

I think too many people see the label "Calvinism" and misunderstand that our concern is not for a system. Our concern is seeing God glorified and bringing a better understanding of His sovereignty over ALL His creation to fellow believers so that they can truly rest in Him!

I am saddened that this debate will not occur as there are so many who would benefit from hearing a scholarly debate on this topic, but God's will is always done and His name will be glorified regardless. :)
~FlameGurl <><

kstonek said...
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kstonek said...

To be honest, there has been a lot of disappointment with students on campus. Earlier in the year Dr. Caner had announced he was going to openly debate Calvinists at Liberty University. Since that point in time there has been a following on campus. I am currently a student at Liberty in my senior year. Last year I was a Prayer Leader last year and I turned down the opportunity become a Spiritual Life Director for this school year.

It pains me to see such a poor display of character in this entire situation. I am not the typical "Dr. Caner fan boy" that plagues the Liberty Campus. I respect Dr. Caner, but in many ways I do wonder how Dr. Caner can preach about so called "Snakes in the pew" (September 13, 2006) and reference how it takes more energy to "deal with a hypocrite than a heathen". Yet, Dr. Caner presents himself in such a manner that would cause unbelievers to resist the gospel message even more. I admit the posts that Dr. Caner has made, as well as his string of emails were at times outright hostile.

I don't often engage many people on campus about "Calvinism", which would once again break Dr. Caner's stereotype of "Kyle Calvinist". For those of you who are actually still coming to Lynchburg, you're more than welcome to drop me a line and partake in some "off campus" fellowship.

I would thank both Dr. Ascol and Dr. White for their patience and perseverance throughout this situation. I hope one day I have the privilege of hearing both of you speak in person in the future.


Kevin Stoneking

Note: You can access Dr. Caner's streaming video sermon at this address.

GUNNY said...

I agree with Snoopy.

For those of us who have had the privilege of snooping the doggy dog regarding the debate (it's origination and demise), our interest and hopes were up only to be squashed by such tomfoolery.

I think the distinction you made with regard to what Dr. Falwell was told is key and nicely stated.

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

I'm not really aware of how these colleges are structured, so I guess this is more of a question than a statement.

Liberty, though I'm sure it has some kind of limited governing board, is thought to be "Jerry's college". Insofar as that's true, regardless of who the man is, does this whole situation speak to the weakness of colleges that are structured under a dominant personality? The idea being: So long as that personality is happy with what you are doing, there is nothing to worry about for Dr. O'Donnell and Dr. Caner.

As a contrasting example, it would seem to me that there would be more accountability at colleges such as the one Al Mohler heads up.

Does anyone think this is a fair assessment of, at least part of, the reason why there was unchecked behavior throughout these past few months? I just look at some of this behavior and say to myself "HOW DO YOU GET AWAY WITH THAT?".

Once again, thank you Dr. Ascol and Dr. White for all of your efforts.

robbro said...

I'm in full support of you, but isn't posting that cartoon a bit much?

PastorSeth71 said...

Dr. Ascol,

You raise some interesting points. But my goodness, don't act like you are taking the moral high road with a cartoon like this you have posted. This whole process has been ridiculous in my opinion on both sides. Schoolyard children can work things out better than.


irreverend fox said...

If I was less than a five pointer and was rooting for the "other" side I would not have been comfortable with "my" team going into this at all. How can you put two scholars up against two great preachers and DEBATE theology? It's almost comical.

The art of preaching is a one way proclamation without rebuttal or any interaction. I really am blessed each time I hear Ergun preach.

But how could he (I'm not as sure about Emir) keep up with either White or Ascol? I'm serious.

I just think that Caner shot his mouth off, was taken back by the strong response and challenge of White, tried to dance, which he couldn't for long AND maintain his "in ring" persona of "Butch the Evangelical Bulldog". So he was caught. (It’s like the time in high school that this dude kept talking about how tuff he was and how he wasn’t afraid of anybody. I got sick of it one day and jumped right into his face, it startled him and he stammered to say something…so he said that he would fight me BUT his dad said he would get kicked out of the house if he got into one more fight…everybody laughed cause he ran his mouth until confronted and then did everything he could to 1. not fight me [he knew I was serious and a real threat] and 2. save face all at the same time. This is exactly how this ENTIRE situation has come off to me.)

He tried to make it so dang impossible that White would quit. Then his brother and Ascol get involved and he continued doing everything he could to upset, frustrate or aggravate White and now Ascol into just canceling.

His approach finally worked, a collective "shhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwww" was heard on Liberty hill. What else can account for this other than Ergun did not want to debate yet wanted to save face, this entire time?

Pastor Steve said...


Very little discussion has occurred about the distribution rights of the debate under the new plan. It seems to me that one of the most dangerous aspects would have been that LU would have been able to edit and distribute elements of the debate at will. It could have been very susceptible to spin for years to come. I think you were right to cancel even if only for this one aspect of the new deal.


Tom said...

Robbro and Pastor Seth:

I found the cartoon very funny. I take it as political satire with the caricatures lightly skewering everyone involved, although the message obviously slants "our" way. My children laughed at my likeness until tears filled their eyes and I posted it to inject a little humor into the situation. Thanks for your cautions and reminders.

Brian Hamrick said...
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jbuchanan said...

I cannot say that I am disappointed that this debate fell through. From the beginning I have expressed grave concern over it and believed that it would have caused more harm than good. Neither side can claim to have taken the high road in all of this and I think all of you need to just stop it. We have more important work that needs to be done. This brings me to the second portion of your post.

I share your sentiments that there is a larger and more important problem in the church (but particualarly the SBC) than the Doctrine of Election, although some of the problem could be partially solved by a return to a robust presentation of the Doctrines of Grace. The problem as I see it is a general lack of concern for having a thoroughly Biblical ministry. Southern Baptist fought for 20 years over inerrancy but now we are giving back everything that was gained because we refuse to acknowledge the sufficiency of Scripture. Pragmatism rules the day and drives our methodology. Many of the younger Pastors in our convention have been blogging about the problems in our convention and I think that they are missing the point completley. The issue is not one of control or undue influence by a few powerful men. The issue is whether or not we as a convention are going to to stop giving lip service to the authority of Scripture and start praciticing what it teaches. This one step will solve the largest number of problems in our convention.

The resurgence was the first step towards reformation within the SBC. It is now time to carry it on to completion. Every Pastor needs to examine his own ministry and to see whether or not his theology and methodology are consistent with the teachings of Scripture. We must return to solid expositional preaching in our pulpits. We must make sure that our gospel presentations do not rush to an expereience before we are sure that we have given a clear and Biblical presentation of the gospel. We must once again challenge our people with solid doctrine upon which they can build their lives. We must return to a Biblical understanding of Church discipline and membership. We must stop fighting over nonessentials and start fighting for the essentials. We must stop fighting each other and begin to do battle with the true enemy of our souls.

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

I think Pastor Steve brings up a good point. The video rights were enough of a concern to warrant dropping the debate. White/Ascol likely would have been victimized by the resulting out-of-context sound bites and one sided "productions" that would have been released in the months following.

Thank you for posting the cartoon; it was a good laugh (due to it's accuracy) and not over the top at all.

art rogers said...

This loss of Christianity among the "Christian" community is what makes the line separating the world and the church so blurred. The church looks, thinks and acts increasingly like the world in many ways, often intentionally so. Consequently, we are seeing the demise of "Christian ethics" all around us. This explains why on so many moral issues the conduct of Christians and non-Christians is indistinguishable. When biblical Christianity has been trampled underfoot or lost altogether, those within the Christian community feel no qualms of conscious acting like mere worldlings.

The truth of this paragraph has weight far beyond the realm of the actions concerning the debate and its cancellation.

The serious nature of such truth makes the actions surrounding the debate and its cancellation stand out in stark relief when compared to the call issued to every Christian to act like Christ.


Drs. Ascol and White:

Regarding all this which I refer to as the Falwell Fiasco (disastrous failure), many of us are disappointed but not the least bit surprised.

Never in our minds have Tom Ascol and James White stood taller and never in our minds have the others
appeared lower.

Without basic Christian character, honesty and integrity, how can we expect the unsaved to be interested in the Lord and Savior we profess to know, love and serve?

Thanks for the full, detailed story of the sad story.

The comic offered some much needed
relief. Humor does help.

But somehow God is going to get lots of glory, honor and praise from this whole mess. In His hands
grief can become good!

Romans 8:28-30

EMB said...

Great point on ethics. When you have a flawed hermeneutic and theology, your ethics will be gravely flawed and potentially ruinous.

Greg B said...

To Joe B, my new pastor. Well said. We should have worked out any frustration, vented any spleen we needed to amongst ourselve. Now is the time to repent of our own pride and anger and to concentrate on our own life and minsitry in the church and world. And ask the big question of ourselves and our organization.
I second the motion. Let us move on.
Greg B

Jim Crigler said...

Re: Brian Hamrick's comment that the cartoon T-shirt seen on EMC is too much

I nearly snorted out the gravy I had in my mouth when I saw it. Keep the cartoon --- it's worth it.

David said...

Dr. Ascol,

Very good post. I pray that as well move on from this that even the failure of this debate to happen will cause other opportunities to arise ,both on Liberty campus and elsewhere, for the doctrines of Grace to be proclaimed. Thanks both to you and Dr. White for your honesty and integrity in this matter. Keep up the good work of faith.

David H.

Brian Hamrick said...
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Bill Formella said...

JB, I really appreciate the spirit behind your last post. When I see an arminian church turn back to preaching expositorally, excercising church discipline and using God honoring methods of church growth, I believe the angels rejoice.

However, I have to say that my personal experience tells me that this is so rare it's impossible to find in many communities. When a church doesn't submit to a biblical understanding of grace all of the other man centered methodology is usually present, although to varying degrees. With the exception of SOME PCA churches that have wholeheartedly embraced seeker sensitivity, most Calvinist churches are quickly moving in the direction of God honoring practices.

I say all of this to point out that there is a relationship between what you call the essentials and the doctrines of grace. The greater understanding one has of grace, the more awe and reverence he will have towards God and greater dependence on the scriptures will be seen in his ministry.

Jackson Magazine said...

I am saddened by the Caner's remarks but I assure you they will continue to spin this episode to their favor. Dr. Ergun is consistant in displaying a bad temper. He will forever say he was willing to debate no matter how many times he is invited to do so this event will be his defense.

I wish you (Dr. Ascol) and Dr. James White would just go and debate them. I'm disappointed that it is not to occur. "Be ready to give an account," not when you like the format but always!

As you can see I'm not playing favorites just calling it like I see it.

Micah said...

The T-Shirt in the cartoon is not intended to suggest that anyone is stupid, rather, that someone is an agressive self-promoter (see erguncaner.com). No on is suggesting that anyone else is "stupid" (much less Charlie Brown. ;))

That said, the fellow in question is still the President of a university.

Beware the tyranny of the "weaker brother".

farmboy said...

jim from oldtruth.com posits the following regarding governance of colleges/universities: "Liberty, though I'm sure it has some kind of limited governing board, is thought to be 'Jerry's college'. Insofar as that's true, regardless of who the man is, does this whole situation speak to the weakness of colleges that are structured under a dominant personality? The idea being: So long as that personality is happy with what you are doing, there is nothing to worry about for Dr. O'Donnell and Dr. Caner."

Based on 18 years as a professor, he is largely correct when it comes to many private colleges/universities. Governing authority formally rests with the board of trustees. However, the trustees appoint a president that they trust. As long as they continue to trust the president, governing authority is effectively passed to the president.

This approach can work as long as the board of trustees exercises effective oversight. What too often happens, however, is that the president has effective control over new appointments to the board of trustees. After a time, then, the board of trustees is composed of men and women hand picked by the president, leading to a lack of effective oversight of the president.

At the other extreme, at large state schools a president can have little effective power because so much power rests with the faculty.

A governance structure that keeps power dispersed and checked and that is faithful to the college/university charter is the ideal. Unfortunately, this ideal is rarely achieved in practice. Students and donors can provide effective checks on power by taking their tuition and donation dollars elsewhere if necessary. The bigger the endowment of a college/university, however, the less effective this potential check will be.

curmudgeon said...


Kudos to both you and James for your candor and grace. You've admitted when you've overreacted and shown evidence of the work of the Spirit.

As to the cartoon, I never took the T-shirt as a commentary on Ergun's intelligence, but rather his ego. I found it hilarious and the likenesses amazing.

Doug Shivers

farmboy said...

When it comes to the "I'm with me" t-shirt, I'm with micah and his comment. For anyone who has followed this issue from the beginning, Ergun Caner's self promotion is self evident. The "I'm with me" t-shirt simply highlighted this obvious fact as an integral part of the cartoon. Don't get mad at the t-shirt or the author of the cartoon. Get mad about the facts that give the t-shirt and the cartoon legitimacy.

Are there t-shirts out there with the wording "I'm with stupid"? I'm usually able to keep up with such things based on what my undergraduate students wear to class. Oh well, at least my wife hasn't bought one - yet.

Brian Hamrick said...

Ok, guys, I did not understand this interpretation- that the T-shirt is referring to Ergun's self-promotion, and is not a spin-off of the common secular shirt. I don't want to eisegete here.

If that's the intention, to talk about Ergun's self-centeredness, I'm supportive of it, and you can dismiss my previous comment. It is appropriate. Carry on.

eric said...

In that the other side is saying you backed out. Should you not state very clearly that if they honor the original agreement, you will debate.
Make them be the ones who refuse to debate if they cant change the contract.

Brian Hamrick said...

I've deleted my previous comments, not to hide them, but to keep this conversation from being hijacked in a direction it does not need to go anymore- now that I've heard this other interpretation of the shirt.

Complex.Behavior said...

Hindsight is 20/20. Ascol/White should have accepted the new schedule (the change wasn't really THAT big of a deal) but refused to grant sole rights to the video/audio (that was a HUGE deal). Then LU could have decided to cancel on their own and shown their true colors.

In fact, the Caners are there and ready so it looks like this thing could still go on. Rescind the cancellation. Say you’ll be there. So you’ll agree to the new format (which everyone is now aware of so they can't really change it). But say you want to preserve distro rights. If the Caners want the debate to go on they’ll respect that and support you.

Like others have said, I do see some childish behavior all the way around, obviously some more than others. Though, I appreciate Ascol's sincere thoughts and example(s) of humility.

The Saxon Hus said...

I first heard of you (and Dr. White) "backing out" of the debate earlier this week and knew the situation was more involved than that. Thank you for clearly articulating what has happened. We certainly need to pray for the Caners (and Liberty University). May the Lord continue to bless you and your ministry, Tom.

By the way, the cartoon is AWESOME! I can not make out the artist's signature. Are you at liberty to disclose the identity of the individual who drew this? Whoever they are (and God knows), they are extremely talented!

ThunderScot1505 said...

Dr. Ascol--

As a former SBTS student (Spencer Haygood and I were there together), and a current student at Liberty's law school, I think Eric's suggestion is a good one.

Make it clear that if the Caners keep covenant--honor their word--then y'all will still debate.

The ball's in their court, and the spin necessarily stands still. Personally, it would be a good source of encouragement for us here on campus, and the point is to spread the Gospel, which you would have possibly an unprecedented opportunity to do.

I know God's ordinary means of Gospel-spreading is not through hyped-up "Super Duper Wonderful Awesome Conferences," Caner et al notwithstanding, but through faithful family-raising and loving brethren and neighbor.

Still, these things can sometimes be useful as a wedge. If nothing else, the buzz here at this campus would provide us locals an opportunity to hold the mirror of the perfect law of liberty up while our brethren and neighbors have their heads up and looking.

I understand your undoubted weariness with the whole mess. Eric's suggestion is worth some prayerful consideration, I believe.

Thank you for your faithfulness and Godspeed whatever your decision.

Christ is King,

B Nettles said...

I just read a post by Ergun Caner in which he acknowledges that he is just a "theologue" whose "ranting" matters little. In watching all this unfold, it seems possible that Dr. Caner simply enjoys jerking people's chains to see how upset he can get them. Is it possible that his pleasure is in getting people upset with him? Considering his reasonable statements about his own blogs, contrasted with obstreperous behavior, one might infer that this has just been one big practical joke for him.
If this isn't so, the inconsistency is remarkable. If this is so, how sad.

jbuchanan said...

Bill Formella said,

Thanks for the kind words. Your point is well taken. I do agree with you that the Doctrines of Grace are very important. In the church that I serve as Pastor we are in the process of reform and part of this process is introducing and fostering the doctrines of grace within our congregation. My point was simply that there are other things that must be considered as well and that our problem in the SBC is not "just" about election.

Thanks for the input and support.

kradzo said...

b nettles said...

I just read a post by Ergun Caner in which he acknowledges that he is just a "theologue" whose "ranting" matters little. In watching all this unfold, it seems possible that Dr. Caner simply enjoys jerking people's chains to see how upset he can get them. Is it possible that his pleasure is in getting people upset with him? Considering his reasonable statements about his own blogs, contrasted with obstreperous behavior, one might infer that this has just been one big practical joke for him.
If this isn't so, the inconsistency is remarkable. If this is so, how sad.

Just a couple of simple observations:

1) If Dr. Caner simply enjoys jerking peoples' chains, then he is causing strife. I don't know if he is, but where does the evidence lead?

2) It may be that this was planned from the beginning when all parties finally agreed to a format. Say whatever to get those Calvinists to agree and then change the format at the last minute knowing they will back out - now we can say all sorts of things.

Just some speculation.

Alan Cross said...

As best as I can tell, Tom, this is wrong. If you both agreed to the principles, you should stick with the agreement. If changes are brought up after the agreement and you remind them of the agreement, they should honor the initial agreement and keep their word. I don't personally know the parties involved, but I can say that this is very disappointing and wrong. I am sorry you've had to go through this. I am VERY sorry for those who made commitments based on these plans.

Tom said...

I have been informed that an announcement was made today at Liberty's Convocation about the debate. Reportedly, Drs. Falwell and O'Donnell told the audience that James White and I backed out of the debate because we "would not agree to rules for the debate proposed by Brett O'Donnell."

Technically, that is true. Of course, as they say, the devil is in the details--or in this case, in the omission of details. But, as I have said before...in the words of Hubmaier, "The truth is immortal." Wounded and abused perhaps, but it will remain standing.

ThunderScot1505 said...

Dr. Ascol,

I'm not so sure Falwell's convo statement is true.

The Caners backed out of the debate the four of you agreed to, and tried to get you to do a different one, to which neither you nor Dr. White agreed.

So, the Caner's backed out because they are covenant-breakers (at least in this instance...don't want to state too much), and recognizing this failure to keep their word, the two of you declined to accept the offer of different terms, still more favorable to the Caners than before, and now even less reliable than the previous ones.

That, I believe, is the truth of what has happened, and not what Falwell twisted it to be.


Troy Hurdle said...

One thing that seems to be overlooked here is that when we open up God's Word, we are dealing with extremely holy things. So to enter into a debate over the content of God's word, one must reasonably assume that everyone will approach biblical issues with some decorum, and preferably with reverence as we try to know God's truth, not to posture so as to "win a debate" or "score points." Although I wanted this debate to happen, I was uneasy about Ergun Caner's ability to approach the debate in the aforementioned manner due to his demeanor in "Why I am Predestined Not to Be a Calvinist," his email correspondence with James White, and his ungracious explanation of why the debate fell through. I guess what I'm saying is that it is better that no debate take place than for some less than respectful "circus debate" to occur where holy things (biblical truths) are involved.

eric said...

Greetings Brothers,
I’ve already posted that I’m disgusted with the Caner Boys. I’m also very disappointed with our side. If my points have merit please consider them, if I’m repeating what another has said please forgive me for being repetitive.

Question: Do we really believe God is sovereign over all? It’s easy for us to say, but when the challenges come, are we willing to live it out? Are we willing to prove that we believe God is sovereign?

We all knew that something may happen at the last minute.
We all knew that the other side was and is very negative to reformed doctrine.
Some probably suspected that the other side could not be trusted.
This list can go on.

Small side note:
I have many friends who are missionaries overseas in countries which hate Christians and the one true God. It is not unusual for my friends to be lied to, stolen from, cursed, etc. Yet they go on with eyes wide open enduring the persecution that will come because they know God is sovereign and he will direct their paths. When they are mislead and lied to, which at times may cost them money, time and a soiled reputation,
They continue on and say “I don’t know why God allowed this to happen, but he has chosen this for us and we will be persecuted for his glory.

In the same light, this is why I’m disappointed with our side. If God is sovereign, he already knew the other side would pull something like this. If this debate was being done to glorify God, let God take care of the details. How do we know that God didn’t predestine this conflict from the other side for his Glory? That is, even when the other side lies, you still move forward, you say “Lord, we have been lied to, they want to keep the rights to film, they want to set all the rules against what we have already agreed to, I’m afraid they will try and make us look like Fools. That’s o.k. Lord, we don’t know why you have put this before us, but you are sovereign and we trust you to work thru that which seems impossible”

When we get right down to it, who cares if they keep the video, alter it and refuse to even give you a copy? You see, the video isn’t ours to begin with.. is it? It’s Gods to do with as he pleases.

When we get right down to it, who really cares if they get the first and last time to talk.
This really isn’t about Elder White and Ascol, It’s about the opportunity to proclaim some truths of God’s sovereignty, it’s about glorifying God. Don’t we believe that God can get his message out even if we don’t get first and or last speaking rights? Do you see my point of needing to trust God when all seems to be against us?

Do we need to examine our selves to see if we are in the faith of trusting God?

Love you Brothers.

Jlbrightbill said...

I'd comment on the announcement in convocation, but I was up until 6am finishing a class assignment that took much longer than expected, and my alarm didn't rouse me from my sleep at 9am like it was supposed to. Liberty usually rebroadcasts convocation on their network or I'm not quite sure what network, but I don't know where in convocation the announcement was.

Tom said...


I mean no disrespect but I think your reasoning is seriously flawed and has more in common with fatalism than biblical Christianity and ultimately is self-contradicting. Sure God is sovereign. Don't you believe that He can get glory for Himself and cause the truths of His sovereignty to be proclaimed at Liberty without James or me speaking in a debate there? He overruled Balaam didn't He? Do you see where I am going with this? I am using your reasoning to your own argument to show how self-defeating it is.

Read the book of Acts with these thoughts in mind. In Acts 25, when Festus asked Paul if he was willing to go back to Jerusalem to stand trial, Paul appealed to Ceasar's judgment seat. Applying your logic to his case, we would blame Paul for not praying, "That's ok Lord, I should not be tried in Jerusalem, but you knew that this would happen. Who cares if I am taken there at the hands of Jews who are trying to kill me rather than to Rome? You are sovereign and I trust you to work through this affair."

Brother, I think you are missing some biblical balance in your thinking.

xara777 said...

I hope this doesn't come across the wrong way, but I would like to see the debate thread fade and the FM Blog move on to discuss other issues. This does not appear, in my opinion, to be something worthy of this much press.

eric said...


I will think thru your correction
in light of scripture.


Jlbrightbill said...

Also of note is that Dr. Caner removed all the favorite quotes from his Facebook profile except for this one:

"A bully is someone who pushes and shoves, but cries when he is pushed back. He then justifies his loss by screaming the fight was unfair, or he was unprepared, etc. A bully then jumps in his backyard, surrounds himself with his friends, and demands a rematch. A bully is a whiner."

I wonder what that's referring to...

ThunderScot1505 said...

Though I agreed with Eric's earlier comment, I also disagree with this evening's. Dr. Ascol's assessment is more than apt.

I did think that stating a continuing willingness to debate on the previous terms permitted the Caners an honorable disengagement from the issue of them breaking their word.

It also disarms the spin cannon blasting away here at Liberty knoll.


Angelz said...

Hello ladies and gents, I thought I would pop in and provide some authoritative insights to the Caner Cartoon...the tee shirt IS referring to his overfed ego, the idea of referring to him as stupid was never a part of the concept. Thanks to all the kudos and also to the criticisms...I'm honored that the good Doctors were gracious enough to post it. If you are interested in seeing an initial illustration from earlier in the Caner debacle, you can catch it at my goofy blog angel2nz.blogspot.com This is proof positive that any goof can get a blog:)
Blessings and thanks again

stilldesiringGod said...

Let us not cast aside Eric's comments too quickly. I believe that if he were to bring his rebuke to a missionary in their eyes from their experience they would not only understand what Eric is trying to say, but feel the need to repent of a lost opportunity. I am not trying to talk out of both sides of my mouth with this next statement, but I also feel that because of the gross actions taken on the part of Falwell's group Drs. White and Ascol have every right to be cautious and cancel what was supposed to happen. That still does not mean that a HUGE missed opportunity has passed by. I am not casting stones as to whose percent of the blame it is, because I do not think that there was anything sinful done by our Founders brothers in their actions. And why would Falwell have exclusive rights to the copy? Sabotage? Filthy lucre? Who knows? But it makes no safe common sense. Better that keen eyes were displayed and suffer the disappointment at what truly could have been wonderful. Where I think Eric may be coming from is that if the debate were to have still happened under all the wrong terms and under poor conditions that were not friendly to a "fair" debate, SO WHAT! God would have still used Drs. White and Ascol for His glory in any circumstance under any set of rules, even if they talked for 45 minutes and you guys only got 15. Who knows what God would have placed upon your hearts at that time to say to do incredible stirring among His people. But praise be to God He is still on His throne and reigning over us. If we are all sitting at home with our families then let Him be glorified by His children whatever they are doing that night the debate was supposed to happen. Hopefully we will not be debating our wives.

Michael said...

Greetings... I am a Liberty student, and I must say that it has been extremely disheartening to see all that has happened over the course of the past several months concerning the debate. There is no reason for the leaders of my school to act in such an un-Christian manner, and whether they would appreciate it or not I humbly apologize for their actions. Ergun Caner has truly acted disgracefully. He seems to forget that not only does he represent Liberty Seminary, but more importantly, he represents Christ.

With that being said, I was at convocation today, and it was sad to see how the situation was presented. Dr. Falwell said something that I thought was quite interesting, this is a paraphrase... "I have many Pastor friends that are 5 point Calvinists, and we enjoy ribbing each other when we get together. But I just cannot understand how there can be so much anger and hatefulness over this theological debate--it is most immature." I could not believe that he could say such a thing with a straight face. It makes me wonder how long the leash on Ergun is. Dr. Caner was so immature in all of this that it is just disgusting.

Other than that, it would be wonderful if you all might keep us at LU lifted up in prayer. Calvinism is resented much here for the most part. I happen to be the only 5 pointer in my Theo 250 class... and was called numerous things by classmates, including a pervert.

Dr. Ascol, "Keep on keeping on."


fishformen said...

Dr. Ascol-
I am proof that one can read the scripture and come to the doctrines of grace despite the institution where they were educated. I attended seminary with both Caners and the term "Baptistic" was commonly used there. Calvinism was spoken of in the same terms as is today from those who call themselves Baptistic. I went to seminary to gain tools to study with and to gain clarity into God's word. I determined to reject all I had previously understood and dive in the Word and let God teach me. (My background was varied from Fundamentalist to Charismatic- None of my pastors were trained and topical was the game) I came to reformed understanding despite the fact that it was discouraged on campus. (I was there for 5 years and only 2 professors were hired (my last year) who were 5 pointers. The word was that there were to keep their ideas under hat. I never read ANY reformed thinkers in Seminary, yet could not get past John and Ephesians- God undid me. I have since read many writings, both for and against. I am persuaded by a simple, yet thorough understanding of the Word of where I stand reformed. As for the debate- I actually stumbled across it 2 weeks ago and it peeked my interest. I agree with your position in handling it. Some have suggested going anyway- Why? God’s sovereignty still speaks, possible louder since the cancellation, and those whom he draws will come. I still get hammered today by many colleagues who know my position, but what matters at the end of the day is that I’m faithful to the vision God gave me and that I share Christ with all in my paths, both here and on foreign soil. Yes I’m evangelist and Calvinistic and become delighted to see when God awakens others to faith. And it happens, with fruit in tote. I want to thank you for your stand this debate, or lack of, has only stoked my fire to love more intently and share more faithfully and to defend truth more fully. Blessings Chris

stilldesiringGod said...

Michael the Liberty student, welcome to the fold, pervert! Whatever they call you, ten years from now you will still be held by God's grace in strong, solid, Biblical doctrine, where will they be? They called Christ many terrible things, and we must make up for that which He lacks in suffering till He comes. Col. 1:24 "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ,". Persecution can and does come on all sides. It comes from the lost wicked world and sadly from our own brothers and sisters in Christ, sometimes. Press on for the prize, pervert. :-| ;-p :-|
Chris, or fishformen, just posted and asked what the point in still going would accomplish. Um, everything that was purposed in planning the debate in the first place and probably so much more now that it has gotten so much more attention! The world has their eyes on Falwell and so does a good little portion of the SBC. When God in His glory is accurately proclaimed we are promised blessings will follow.

Timmy said...

I just want to express my gratitude and appreciation to God and to the students of LU for the way they/you have handled yourselves. Though this situation easily fosters frustration, disappointment, and anger, you have exibited Christian maturity through measured words from sincere hearts. The Reformed community aware of this situation ought to continue to lift you guys up in prayer as you are in an environment that certainly is not accepting to Reformed beliefs.

For those of you affiliated in one way or another with Liberty University, let me encourage you as a fellow student to continue live coram deo and take to heart the words of Paul who said:

"Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Tim. 4:16).

It is not only our teaching that we must keep a close watch, but our spiritual lives and health. Those who would hear (or in this case read) us might never consider our teaching because its truth has been eclipsed by our lives not bearing fruit of the reality of such biblical teaching.

I say this to myself first and foremost, knowing the wickedness of my own heart and need for mercy and grace. The destruction of our lives will come more quickly from disobedience of the truth than denial of it (though disobedience is a form of denial in itself). Anyway. I am most heartened by the attitudes and dispositions I have seen from you (students of LU) and pray that God uses you to reflect the glory of God in the face of Christ. Persevere brothers and sisters, and know that you have been an encouragement to me.

eric said...

The Sovereignty of God:

Elder Ascol,

I appreciate your opening statement that you mean no disrespect. You are the Elder and I am the “pew sitter”. Please, always feel free to give an Elder’s correction; though you are not my personal Elder, I willingly respect your position in Christ.

Without trying to be argumentative.
May I offer more thoughts as I think my concerns apply to more than this debate?
As I stated earlier, many of my friends in missions will encounter similar circumstances as they have agreements with forerners only to be cancelled or changed later. Yet they see these encounters as trials they must endure.

With respect to Acts 25, Am I correct that God didn’t specifically send Paul to Jerusalem? If God sent Paul to Jerusalem, I’m thinking Paul would have gone even if he
suspected it meant his life, he may not have appealed to Caesar.

With respect to my reasoning being fatalistic, if so, it is in ignorance. I’m not reasoning that we throw ourselves into the lions den “before God sends”. I would say if God calls us to enter the lions den, we can do so with confidence not fatalism. (after God sends)

With respect to the debate or any other life experience. Before the debate begins, you had every right to set the ground rules, every right to expect honesty from the other side.
The big question is what do we do when the other side lies, cheats and steals after the agreement is made. (by the way I’m not saying the other side cheats and steals).
I’m thinking that you have already prayed thru the debate and God called you and James to go.

I’m thinking that fatalism would lead one not to move forward if the rules are changed. Faith and confidence in God would lead one to move forward with the debate or the lions den if God truly called one to go.

My friends will tell you I’m a poor communicator; I hope my thoughts are understood.
I think this whole episode can cause reflection on Gods sovereignty in many areas of life beyond the debate.

Please feel free to give Elder council and or correction.

centuri0n said...

I think that we're better off with a collapsed and cancelled debate than we would have been with a debate that was really a kind of rhetorical food fight where James and Tom were buried under a mountain of logical banana peels and half-eaten sandwiches because they are too polite to stoop to even turning over a table in self defense.

My suggestion to anyone reading this from Liberty or the SBC "powers that be" is that engaging the harsh rhetoric from the anti-Calivinist side is in the best interest of Baptists everywhere. Why? Because if the charges against the "Calvinists" are true, they should be outed in public and the purveyors of such a thing should be demonstrated to be men who have something bad to hide. But -- and this is the crux here -- if the "Calvinism" of Tom Ascol and the rest of us can be publicly vindicated, it is incumbent upon the loose-talkers who are themselves pastors and alleged men of God to come clean with their errors and confess to their slanders and libels.

Personally, I think you can have your non-reformed doctrines if you are convicted that they are true -- but if you'd like to use them as a club to discredit men of good faith who disagree with you, you have mistaken the kind of spirit that ought to be with you. Period.

John O said...

jlbrightbill noted that Ergun Caner has this quote on his site:

"A bully is someone who pushes and shoves, but cries when he is pushed back. He then justifies his loss by screaming the fight was unfair, or he was unprepared, etc. A bully then jumps in his backyard, surrounds himself with his friends, and demands a rematch. A bully is a whiner."

I found that extremely interesting, and I can only point to an incredible Providence, because without any prior knowledge to that statement, I wrote an article about the cancellation of the debate a few days ago, and I spoke about "bullies," but, I speak of it very different terms :-) for anyone interested, here is the link to the article: http://www.geocities.com/johnandursula/nodebate .



centuri0n said...


the serious problem with your argument is that Paul was going to Jerusalem to face unbelievers -- not men who claim to be fellow disciples of Christ. If this were a missions trip, that's one thing: this is actually supposed to be a friendly discussion between brothers in Christ. Should we knowingly submit ourselves to abuse from Christians who are pretty loose with the truth?

I think that the right way to handle such a thing is to first get a basis for both sides to engage in advocating for truth -- and agreement which does not pin back the wings of either side either during the encounter or afterwards.

That agreement is clearly the problem here.

Taliesin said...

I'm reminded of a frontier story where some Methodists were talking to a Presbyterian pastor. They asked him why he took his gun every time he went into the woods, after all, if God had predestined him to die, the gun would not do him any good.

The pastor replied that was true, but he never knew when he might meet a bear who was predestined to die.

Eric: The point I want to make with that story is that God's ordination can have many paths, and does not mean we are not to be "wise as serpents, but innocent as doves." Displaying godly wisdom and avoiding what a train wreck can bring God glory just as much as continuing on that path.

As for Dr. Ascol and Dr. White feeling God calling them to the debate, He may have called them specifically to this point specifically for this point. A historical example would be that Calvin left France for Germany. He felt called of God to go study and be a professor. He just had to go through Geneva to get where God was leading him. God did not reveal to Calvin until after he got to Geneva that Geneva would be his place of ministry.

The path that God sets us on initially does not always lead to the destinations we think. We have to be ready to stop (or go) when Biblical wisdom says that is the right thing to do.

Jlbrightbill said...

Can you say martyr complex?


(Click to view full size if Firefox/IE/Your browser of choice resizes it)

Denny Burk said...

I've been blogging about the debate debacle this morning (www.dennyburk.com), and I'm really disappointed to hear that the debate has been called off.

I was looking forward to a robust discussion of the Bible's teaching about the doctrines of grace. It's really too bad.

Denny Burk

Bill Formella said...

Michael said...

Dr. Falwell said something that I thought was quite interesting, this is a paraphrase... "I have many Pastor friends that are 5 point Calvinists, and we enjoy ribbing each other when we get together. But I just cannot understand how there can be so much anger and hatefulness over this theological debate--it is most immature."

Honestly Dr. Falwell, have you not had an opportunity to review the sermon by Dr. Caner that sparked the debate? When you're kidding around with your five pointer friends do you say things like "Calvinists believe God is the author of sin and don't mind saying so"? You should be more careful about what you say, because your students heard the now famous sermon as well. How can they reconcile you being such good buddies with the kind of people that your golden boy obviously hates with a passion?

Uncialman said...


What "sparked" the debate between Dr. Caner and Dr. White was:

1. A debate proposal sent by me to Dr. Caner and Dr. White on October 24, 2005 on the thesis " "Does God
Unconditionally Elect Some Unto Salvation?". Dr. White replied in the affirmative, Dr. Caner did not.

2. A public (On this very blog (Please check the Johnny Hunt nomination thread)) debate proposition was then made to Dr. Caner and Dr. White on February 18th, 2006 in the midst of Dr. Caner's discussion with others. Dr. White responded affirmatively, Dr. Caner refused to reply.

3. After Dr. Caner did not reply, I submitted a second debate offer on February 24th, 2006 to Dr. Caner and Dr. White on the thesis "Is a General Atonement Specifically Taught in the Bible?" . Dr. White responded "yes", Dr. Caner refused to reply.

*Dr. Caner then proposed the discussed debate, which included Dr. Emir Caner and Dr. Ascol at Liberty under their rules, format, etc. directly to Dr. White. Dr. White and Ascol conditionally accepted.

After the foursome debate was cancelled after the change of format and rules, I then offered the following to both debaters:

4. Debate between Dr. White and Dr. Caner on neutral territory on November 2nd in Orlando FL on the topic "Is Calvinism Biblical" - which was made both through email and pubically on this blog. Dr. White responded with an affirmative "yes". I have still not heard anything from Dr. Caner.

However, Dr. Caner has posted the following on his blog:

A: He has already proven that we cannot trust him in these things. Other professors warned me this type of thing would happen. It reminds me of the boy who will not play a game unless he owns the ball, or he sets the rules. Obviously, the chapter is closed. He walked away. Make of that what you will.

Sadly, there is a lack of veracity in the above statement. *I* have been the one who has requested the debate prior to Dr. Caner's posting on the Founders blog. I "own the ball" so to speak and am more than willing to discuss rules, format, etc. with Dr. Caner. James White is not pursuing Dr. Caner for a debate - Michael O'Fallon is. Why? For 7 years I have been sponsoring and moderating theological debates. I *always* seek to find either the best proponents of either side of the argument that I wish to have debated or the most well-known proponents of each side. Thus far, we have been able to arrange debates for the following:

*2006* Is Homosexuality Compatible With Authentic, Biblical, Christianity?" with Dr. James White and Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong DD
*2005 "Is the Jesus of the New Testament Historically
Accurate" with Dr. James White and Dr. John Dominic
*2005 "Was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ Literal and Physical?" with Dr. John Dominic Crossan, Dr. Marcus Borg, Dr. James Renihan, and Dr. James White
*2004 "Does Trinitarian Baptism Make One a Member of
the New Covenant" with Dr. James White and Rev.
Douglas Wilson
*2003 "Is Jesus God or a god?" with Dr. James White
and Gregory Stafford
*2002 "Does God Know the Future?" with Dr. James White
and Dr. John Sanders
*2001 "Is Personal Knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ the Only Path of Salvation?" with Dr. James
White and Dr. John Sanders
*2000 "Is the Papacy Infallible?" with Dr. James White
and Robert Sungenis

In the negotiations and moderation of these debates, including those that would not be considered "Christian", I have never had any of the issues or drama that has surrounded this debate. I also have never had ANY one person that I have made a debate proposal to refuse to answer the query. Never.

I pray that Dr. Caner will take the time to at least give me the courtesy of a "yes" or a "no". I pray for the sake of both sides that we will have an affirmative answer.

Michael O'Fallon
President / Director of Sales
Sovereign Cruises and Events LLC

Bill Formella said...

Michael, Thanks for the very detailed correction and keep up the good work. I guess I had only heard of the debate after watching Dr. Caner's sermon. Maybe you should suggest a debate with Tom Nettles on Is Baptist Theology Historically Calvinistic. Trying to arrange one with Dr. White might be too intimidating. Would you want to debate him? :)

In spite of my error in that one detail, I think Dr. Falwell's comment still ignores how inflammatory his golden boy is and he will still have students questioning his integrity in light of this.

Timmy said...

Another gem from Ergun's latest post:


A: Yes, absolutely. For a small portion of these people, just daring to question the Bezian movement is heresy. They will blog and e-mail incessantly. I call it a “Calvinist Jihad,” because just like Muslims, they believe they are defending the honor of their view. They can discuss nothing else. I have even had a few call for my head! Dr. Falwell and I have laughed about it, because they are so insistent, and they miss the point completely. There are plenty of schools to which the neo-Calvinists can go, but Liberty will be a lighthouse for missions and evangelism to the “whosoever wills.” Period.

scripturesearcher said...

My sources inform me:

Some of the most disappointed that the proposed (and previously agreed upon) debate in Lynchburg are students at Liberty University!

They wanted the bloviating self-proclaimed "pit bull" dog of their school to be informed by the TRUTH that Ascol and White were prepared to present.

Now that he is rescued from the encounter, expect "spinning" like you have not seen - "spinning" to make it look like he is the roaring Goliath before David and his slingshot floored him.

eric said...

I wonder if liberty has a campus radio station that would interview Elder White to set the record straight.

sparrowhawk said...

In a less tolerant age, Spurgeon would have called out Arminians as heretics ( and did), and Luther would have belched and flatuated in the face of his religious opponent (and did, probably.) All of it was predicated that their opponents knew what Arminianism, Pelagianism, etc. meant. Today’s average SBC pastor cannot even articulate what the phrase “Doctrines of Grace” means when asked.

But I digress.

Let me thank Michael from Liberty for his comments. Far too often I’ve privately called down fire from heaven to devour anything Liberty, the mean and moralistic (and embarrassing) fundamentalists posing as Southern Baptists for too many years now. Yet, it only takes a comment like Michael’s to prick my Son of Thunder’s heart once again of my sinfulness.

May the Lord bless you Michael. I'll agree and expand upon an earlier comment: In ten years, you and other Reformed ‘Libertarians’ will still be standing strong of the sovereign grace of our Lord while today’s Factious SBC Man will be inheriting the wind.

Jlbrightbill said...

Liberty does have a radio station, 90.9 The Light (http://www.thelightonline.com/), but I highly doubt any dissenting position would be allowed on. Worth contacting though if anybody so desires.

Micah said...

dontcha mean "whosoever wills"?

ThunderScot1505 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ThunderScot1505 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ThunderScot1505 said...

I can confirm the presence of many Calvinists at Liberty among both students and faculty. The law school in which I am enrolled, has a solid and vocal contingent.

I have generally not known Falwell to seek to suppress this directly, though he makes no bones about his opposition to it.

Still, in the past, the head of his government department was an O.P.C. elder, and the current head of his college of arts and sciences is a Hanover Presbytery teaching elder. The academic dean of the law school is also an O.P.C. man, and the founding dean of the law school was a former P.C.A. man.

I know the Presbyterian credentials may not excite the Baptists here (I grew up Southern Baptist, attended SBTS, but am now Presbyterian myself). Still, the point being made is that there is an influential Calvinist contingent here, mostly Baptists, a good many Presbyterians, and a few of various other Reformed stripes. There are many more interested in hearing more, and very receptive.

We thank you for your prayers.

By God's providence, I've been through a number of controversies, both inside and outside the church, often against pitched enemies. I've never encountered the low point reached by Ergun Caner, in particular.

That said, I've often been encouraged by Ephesians 6, which reminds us that we wrestle not with flesh and blood. Caner is not the enemy. I think we must assume his membership in Christ's church. And therefore he is a part of our body, and not our enemy.

We wrestle with the forces of evil--in ourselves,in the world, in Caner et al. We also must accept responsibility for the failures of our fathers whose contentions for the faith were not as earnest as they ought to have been, among many other sins.

Daniel, in his prayer in chapter 7, repents for the sins of his erring fathers, despite his amply documented personal faithfulness to God. He nevertheless accepts the consequences as being part of his own responsibility.

Calvinists and other Reformers, as instruments in God's mighty right arm accomplishing his sovereign preservation of a people unto himself, are historically the reason there remains a visible church on earth, after its near-destruction by the papists, whose doctrines are now eerily similar to that of the Caners of this world.

Yet, the Reformers came out of that body. So may the very best men of our time come from within that body of those who name Christ's name while holding an armful of Gospel-burdening errors. Think about it. Caner as a Calvinist, minus a few undesirable habits of personal communication ;>).

I'm not so concerned about party affiliations, but I want Christ's glory and salvation to cover the earth as the water covers the sea.

I have a spectrum of emotions like I'm sure many of you do. This comment, I assure you, does not convey the worst of them.

But the prospect of overcoming the attempts of hell to withstand our advances on its gates is thrilling, and with that spirit I pray for those whose hearts I believe have been made alive, but whose transformation may yet be greatly progressed this side of heaven.

Our God is big, sovereign, and irresistible. Let's pray and conduct ourselves accordingly.

God bless the many of you lifting us Liberty studs, er, I mean students up in prayer. Don't just pray for Liberty Calvinists. We'll be fine. Pray for kingdom expansion in the hearts and minds of those here, as well. Thank you.


Micah said...

Caner is not the enemy. I think we must assume his membership in Christ's church. And therefore he is a part of our body, and not our enemy.

Romans 16:18
For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

I think the Bible makes it clear that people who hold positions of authority in the church and yet are deceivers are in fact the enemy of the church.

bristopoly said...


A: If a person holds to reprobation, this is a clear sign. If anyone believes that God has created souls damned to hell, and predestined them to hell, then they would be a poster child for Hyper Calvinism."

This seems to be the problem. Mr. Caner confuses Hyper Calvinism with Supralapsarianism, which is still a class of Calvinism. You would think someone who teaches theology would understand the difference. Ironic that he then complains that people he likes are erroneously called Arminians. Even more ironic is that they actually are Arminians in 3-4 points of doctrine, so the label is far more accurate. AND even more ironic still is the fact that Mr. Caner probably holds to the warped Baptist belief of Once Saved Always Saved, which ends up being far more Hyper Calvinistic than the actual Calvinistic doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints. So fundamentalists adopt the worst of both positions: free-will and easy believism. What a world, what a world!

ThunderScot1505 said...

Sorry for the double post. I tried to delete it, but obviously to no avail. Maybe the administrator can remove it.

I don't think we have authority to declare him or anyone an enemy of the church absent a determination by a duly-authorized church court with jurisdiction.

Could you say everytime I sin, or everytime I sinfully mislead I am acting as an enemy of Christ? Probably.

But the outright declaration I think is properly reserved for extraordinary cases, and not the privilege of private individuals, but is the prerogative of the church through her God-given officers.

I have no hesitation saying the Pope is the enemy of Christ, because so does the church.

When I fail to exercise godly headship in my home, I am acting like an enemy of my family, but there is a distinction, I believe, between that and actually being an enemy worthy of removal from that body constituted as my family. Even then, the removal or other censure ought to be for the goal of restoration.

The lack of church discipline certainly complicates the matter, when there is no real recourse against wrongs, but I don't think that gives us carte blanch to declare those with whom we disagree enemies of Christ, and I decline to do so and urge the same restraint on my brethren here.


Mike said...

"AND even more ironic still is the fact that Mr. Caner probably holds to the warped Baptist belief of Once Saved Always Saved, which ends up being far more Hyper Calvinistic than the actual Calvinistic doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints."

I'm not sure what you are getting at here. If you are stating that the doctrine of Eternal Security is unBiblical then, obviously, I would strongly disagree. If you are speaking of a perverted/misinterpreted version of Eternal Security in which the licentious find solace, believing they now can get away with anything since receiving Christ (as if this could be done) then I don't disagree. Simply, if you're saying that Eternal Security is not a Biblical doctrine you are wrong.

stilldesiringGod said...

bristopoly, where did you get that horribly wrong definition of hyper-Calvinism? John Calvin himself would be a hyper-Calvinist!

bristopoly said...

Mike, I am stating the latter. I should have made it more clear as most reformed folks would understand the distinction between the two. Most of the reformed don't use the phrase Once Saved Always Saved. They usually use the term perseverance in order to display that one who is saved remains under the Lordship of Christ. The former term is used by American Fundamentalists and Evangelicals to describe how no matter what they do in their lives to show that Christ is not their Lord, they will always be Christians (which is more of a Hyper Calvinistic idea).

I don't know if you are referring to the Caner quote or the Once Saved Always Saved thing, but you are horribly wrong if the latter. Calvin believed in Perseverence of the Saints, not Once Saved Always Saved.

stilldesiringGod said...

bristopoly, I believe you need a bit of humility in your blogging. I did not make this personal. I merely asked about the definition you used. You then asked and gave two possibilities of where I was pulling it from from within your previous blog. I have reread your post several times and am now assuming that the Q & A must have been put to Dr. Caner and that was his answer. I thought it obvious when I asked about your definition of hyper-Calvinism and you began your post with in all caps "Q: HOW DO YOU DEFINE HYPER CALVINISM?" Then you gave the answer. The specific point I was making is that in that definition of hyper Calvin would be included. I was not referring to Caner or once saved always saved at all. Where the majority of modern Calvinists stand in agreement with the Synod of Dort, Calvin took a much tougher double predestination position. Therefore, this definition of hyper-Calvinism you have supplied, wherever it has come from, makes John Calvin himself a member of a theological party we associate with heretics. Does this make him a heretic? NO! We see the Caner brothers doing the exact same thing to all of us Founders boys right now lumping us incorrectly in with hyper-Calvinists. Are we then heretics because a professing believer has associated us with heretical teaching on the other side of some teaching called Calvinism? NO! They just happen to be wrong. We certainly need checks and balances, but on these issues concerning the grace doctrines they are just wrong. So I am now assuming that Dr. Caner made this definition up since there has been some misunderstanding between you and I and you chose an aggressive front instead of just requesting more information. Try some godly French fries next time, please. Grace seasoned with salt. Peace.

bristopoly said...

What are you talking about? I need humility when I asked you what you were talking about and you answer me with a rebuke? I was simply stating that IF you were referring to the OSAS idea, then you were wrong about Calvin. I don't really see that as arrogance, brother.
Secondly, the answer that is given is Mr. Caner's defition of Hyper Calvinism. My point is that his definition is not Hyper Calvinism at all, but that he is speaking about supralapasarian Calvinism. By his defition, you're right, Calvin (and Augustine for that matter) would have been a Hyper Calvinist. So I did not supply definition. I was simply stating that it is an erroneous one. Funny how I'm being rebuked for agreeing with you, eh? Please note the quotes around both the Q and the A. Both are Caner's. Perhaps a little more inquiry shake as to what I was saying would have gone down well with those fries you're eating? :)

Bartimaeus said...

It is cleear that Ergun Caner does not even consider Calvinist as Christians. He has said that we are worse than Muslims. I sent an open lettre to him regarding this false witness by such a statement. Considering Caner's ability to play with the facts I am not suprised. Anyway here is the E-mail that I have sent.

Dr Ergun Caner

Dear Sir

I read with dismay you charge that Calvinist are worse than Muslims. This is a reprehensible thing that you have said. I have been engaged in Muslim evangelism for over 30 years. I have met many Muslims who have had to flee from their homeland and who have been disowned by their families. You have trivialized the persecution of thousands. This coming from a former Muslim is inexcusable.

When I was involved in missions in Iran I met a Pastor who would later be martyred because he loved the lord Jesus. You have spit on those people. As a Calvinist I believe in the Deity of Christ, that he came to seek and save that which was lost. I believe in the atonement and the inerrancy of scripture. Last time I checked Islam denied these things. Of course I am assuming that if you consider us worse than Muslims then you must not consider us as Christians.

I have responded to your spinning the truth about why the debate was cancelled on my blog. If you care to read it here is the link. http://defending-calvinism.blogspot.com/

Of course any response that I may receive from you be posted for all to read.I will also be posting this letter on my blog.


Stephen L. Atkins
Toronto, Ontario

As of yet I have not recieve a reply. I am not holding my breath

kradzo said...

I'm not so sure comparing Doctors Ascol and White going to Liberty with Paul going to Rome is an accurate comparison. Hindsight is 20/20 and we've had 2,000 years plus God's Word to tell us that it was His plan for Paul to go to Rome and die after testifying. How sure are we that it was God's will for this debate to happen?

Regarding Missionaries overseas - yes, they go on with eyes wide open enduring the persecution that will come because they know God is sovereign. However, if they knew for a fact that their trip to a village tomorrow would be met by people with the express intent of killing them, would they still go? Not that the Caners were going to assassinate Ascol and White, but it sure did look like an ambush was waiting for them in the debate.

johnMark said...

Did you all read this? http://jamestippins.com/?p=82

It seems as if he's missed all of the documentation.


chikashi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ThunderScot1505 said...

I received this link in an email today, and thought it was timely and might of interest to readers of this blog:



Bill Formella said...

Here's a Baptist Press article on the cancellation of the debate. Very favorable I think, and helpful to getting the links to Founders and Alpha Omega Ministries out there.


James said...

Still silent on the LU front, except for Emir. Thankfully, it seems that everyone is on the same page finally, except for some 'spin' it seems on the O'Donnel end.

Staying Stupid...