Copied from James White's website:
Since February 27th of this year, plans have been underway to schedule a debate on Baptists and Calvinism. Drs. James White, Ergun Caner, Emir Caner and Tom Ascol initially agreed to participate in this event which was scheduled to be held at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia on October 16, 2006.
Over the last five months, efforts to negotiate the terms of the debate at times degenerated into heated, antagonistic exchanges between the four participants. In both speech and tone too much of the communication has been perceived and/or characterized by sinful attitudes that have not honored the Lord Jesus Christ. We acknowledge our responsibility in this and deeply regret that we allowed it to happen. Each of us longs to represent Christ honorably and our intent is to conduct further negotiations in ways that will do so.
Through ongoing communication out of the public eye we have come to terms regarding the debate. It remains scheduled on October 16th and will involve all four of us. The topic will be, "Baptists and Calvinism: An Open Debate." The length will be three hours. The format will be modified Parliamentary. The place will be Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia.
We are committed to engaging in a debate that will highlight the significant differences that exist between our respective views of how the Gospel of God works in bringing salvation to sinners. We believe that such debate can be conducted in a lively, vigorous exchange that need not violate the standard for Christian conduct that God has given us in His Word. Our goal is to do exactly this. The issues on which we disagree are important. It is because of our love for Christ and His truth that we believe these issues are worth debating. However, we regard this as a fraternal debate and intend to approach it not as antagonists, but as brothers with strong disagreements.
To that end we are asking those who have followed the issues surrounding this debate to join us in prayer that the Lord will guide us as final preparations are being made and that He will help us to conduct ourselves in a manner "worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Sincerely in Christ,
I am thrilled to read this. The debate had taken a decidedly unChristian turn and was bringing dishonor to the kingdom from all sides. It is good that these men (otherwise godly) stepped out of the public spotlight and came to a compromise regarding the sticking points of the debate. From what I know, the concessions are:
1) James White gets his three hours. The Caner brothers only reluctantly extended the debate from two hours to two and a half hours. At first, the Caners said no one would be interested in a three hour debate on this topic. Obviously, they underestimated people's desire to learn more.
2) The debate topic seems to have changed. Originally, the Caners insisted on a topic centering on the omnibenevolence of God. This all started from Caner's comments on Tom Ascol's blog about Calvinism being a "virus" that needed to be stamped out. It is good to see they will be debating Calvinism in the SBC.
3) The style of the debate will be a modified parliamentary debate and I can only assume that the moderator will be the coach of Liberty's national championship debate team.